Fantasy Football Hot Takes: NFL Week 11
Dan Malin recaps the weekend's action in the NFL with his fantasy football hot takes and what you need to take away from everything you saw.
Normally the opening sentence would be something along the lines of “Well Week 11 is almost in the books,” but I think we can refer to this week as the Week of the Free Square. I won’t make any jokes about Taysom Hill being a TE-eligible player starting at quarterback, but I will kick off the Hot Takes with an opinion on the matter…
Taysom Hill Shouldn’t Lose Tight End Eligibility
Now I am someone who had the luxury of playing Hill at the tight end spot on this particular fantasy provider’s website (we all know it’s ESPN) that has taken a bit of a beating the last few days. I’m also someone who took some key losses in vital matchups because my opponent was playing Hill as their tight end. If you read this week’s NFL DFS Playbook, Howard’s preamble was spot on. Sure, it’s dumb that he had tight end eligibility. But we knew he had it all season long. And we knew this was a possibility. I even addressed this in last week’s waiver wire column but even I wasn’t expecting he’d be named the starting quarterback. Hill’s been tight end-eligible all year. We’ve known the potential problem this could be, and now that it’s come to fruition everyone is crying foul.
There are rumblings that we could see Taysom Hill lose his eligibility at tight end and that would be a whole different issue. I’m okay with small changes happening during a season by a league commissioner. Maybe it’s a slight scoring change that happens between weeks, not during slates that are active. I’m okay with commissioner’s adding an extra IR spot given all the COVID-related problems we’ve seen this year. What I don’t buy into is a site provider realizing they made a big “uh oh” and eliminate his eligibility when they knew this could happen with a Drew Brees injury. He has 32 snaps this year where he lined up at tight end and 77 other snaps where he was in the backfield, in the slot, or lined up out wide. At the very least it would appear he should have utility eligibility.
So while I think ESPN certainly made a mistake, and that they ultimately will strip him of his eligibility at tight end, I don’t really think they should. This is the bed they made and they should just lie in it. It was a big error that should’ve been on everyone’s radar, and it was for the most part, as it gave many fantasy managers a significant advantage or disadvantage. In a year we should be thankful that we have some semblance of football and fantasy football, this really should just be a minor blip on the radar, but it’s blown up into quite the controversy.
JK Dobbins Is Officially Taking Over In Baltimore
I know I’ve said I don’t trust the Ravens, but this rookie may be the exception. If you stayed the course and kept him on your bench as we dive into the end of the season, congratulations! The reigns may finally have been given to Dobbins last week in a fairly competitive game against the Tennessee Titans. Dobbins had 63% of the offensive snaps at running back with 17 carries and two receptions while Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards touched the ball a total of five times. When he’s had the ball in his hands, Dobbins has looked fantastic. And this week the 15 carries returned 70 yards and a touchdown. The Ravens are now on the outside looking in of the playoff picture sitting at 6-4. They’ve lost three of their last four games with a divisional matchup on tap next week against the undefeated Steelers. Fortunately they do have a relatively soft schedule to finish out the year. Assuming the Ravens try to put their best foot forward for the remainder of the year, it does feel like Dobbins should take over a bulk of the workload on the ground. He’s young, explosive, and always feels like he could break away for 15-20 yards when Lamar Jackson checks down to him.
With Joe Burrow Done, Downgrade Your Bengals By One Tier
Joe Burrow suffered an ugly leg injury Sunday, thus ending his rookie campaign. It’s a damn shame but it goes to show that the Bengals need to invest in the offensive line and protect him. When Jonah Williams has been healthy and active, he’s protected Burrow’s blindside pretty well. But he hasn’t played the last few weeks. Aside from Williams and Trey Hopkins , the pass protection has been weak. Bobby Hart ’s allowed 24 pressures and three sacks, while Fred Johnson and Alex Redmond have each allowed 13 pressures. In total, Burrow has been sacked 32 times in just nine games. This is a wakeup call for better protection for your franchise quarterback. The Bengals may lose the remainder of their and finished 2-13-1 which should help them land another elite offensive line prospect.
But back to my original point, with Ryan Finley under center this is a drastic downgrade to the rest of the positional players on Cincinnati’s roster. Tyler Boyd has played at the level of a top 12 wide receiver this year and this possibly drops him a few spots but he could still be a Top 20 wide receiver. When Finley played last season he relied on a lot of short passes across the middle so Boyd should be okay. Giovani Bernard has been a serviceable piece for the Bengals in Joe Mixon ’s absence and he’s probably a borderline RB2 play at best going forward. Depending on the matchup I’d hesitate to use him in the Flex. Tee Higgins has been fantastic in his rookie year but he may take the biggest hit out of anyone with Finley coming in the picture. Now I’ll try and give Finley the benefit of the doubt that if he gets a full week of practice with the first-team offense then I’ll feel a little better about him. However, he played 18 snaps on Sunday. He attempted ten passes, completed only three for 30 yards, and he threw an interception. He was also sacked four times. Again, the offensive line sucks. This is a fantasy nightmare if you own any Cincinnati Bengals, and while I don’t normally subscribe to the idea of NFL teams shutting players down, what point do they have bringing Joe Mixon back after Week 13 when he’s eligibile to come off IR?
Matt Ryan Is A Fantastic GPP Play Next Week
Fantasy managers and even novice DFS players are reactionary. They love to write off players and refuse to draft them going forward because they were burned in the past by them. And I’m guilty of it as well so there’s a little hypocrisy on my part. But I’m very curious to see Matt Ryan ’s ownership in DFS next week. It should be low after an embarrassing game against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. He completed just over 50% of his passes for 232 yards and eight interceptions. He was also sacked eight times yesterday. In a game where the Saints didn’t have Marshon Lattimore , the Falcons couldn’t get anything going. So I’m hoping this leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of many DFS players and it pushes Ryan’s ownership down quite a bit next week. The Falcons host the Oakland Raiders who allow the fifth-most passing yards per game (273.6 heading into Week 11) and Patrick Mahomes burned them for over 300 on Sunday night. The Raiders also don’t tout the greatest pass rush either as they average about one sack per game so Ryan shouldn’t be on his back as much. With a main slate next week featuring Patrick Mahomes , Josh Allen , Justin Herbert, Kyler Murray , Cam Newton , and Tom Brady I’m interested in getting a good share of Matt Ryan lineups.
The Seahawks D/ST Is a MUST Add This Week
I normally don’t recommend throwing FAAB at a D/ST but the Seahawks are one you may be able to play for quite a few weeks that could pay off in a big way for you. Over their next three games they play the Eagles, Giants, and Jets and those last two games are at home. We’ve actually seen the Seahawks perform much better on defense lately with the addition of Carlos Dunlap . With Dunlap, the Seahawks pass rush has generated 13 sacks and a safety over their last three games. They haven’t forced any turnovers, but those could be quite abundant in the next few weeks with excellent matchups ahead. Carson Wentz , Daniel Jones, and whoever is starting at quarterback for the Jets will be due for sacks and turnovers so dare I say maybe throw three-to-five dollars worth of FAAB toward Seattle?
You’ll Never Know Who To Start Among The Colts Running Backs
I’ve written up Nyheim Hines about three or four times the last two years for the Waiver Wire column. And every single time, without fail, he doesn’t produce the following week. Even prior to Sunday’s game it was reported that Nyheim Hines would see an increase in work. And what happened? He carries the ball six times for two yards. Fortunately he had three catches for over 30 yards, but the tricky thing with this backfield is that we can’t trust pre-game reports or recent trends. Going forward, the Colts won’t even know who will get the lion’s share of the carries for Indianapolis. That decision will be made in-game depending on who has the hot hand. And I can already see the plethora of questions pouring in with “Who do you think is the hot hand today?” And your guess is as good as mine. It doesn’t matter who is getting first-team reps or who looked good last week. All that matters is who is giving the team the best chance to win at that point in time. So you may see involvement early on from all three and then the carries could very well go to just one of them while Hines maintains some usage in the passing game. And it’s going to be incredibly frustrating.
Bad Weather And A Soft Schedule Easily Mask Baker Mayfield ’s Deficiencies
After getting into a spirited debate with a member of the FANation on Sunday, it seems like we’re at a pass with Baker Mayfield . And I was a big fan of his in college. I liked the swagger, the trash talk, and how he wasn’t afraid to speak his mind with members of the media. People will look to his insurance commercials and probably crap on him for doing too many of those and not enough prep on the field. Honestly, commercials aren’t a big deal. He probably leant himself to shooting them in one day. But he really has fallen short taking the next step in his development as a NFL quarterback. We can lean on the weather for the last three home games for Cleveland because he hasn’t thrown a ton. But he still only has two games on the year with more than 32 pass attempts, and only one game with more than 250 passing yards. Fortunately, the Browns have two of the best running backs in the league at their disposal in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt so they don’t have any issue getting the ground game going. But wasn’t this supposed to be Baker’s make or break year? Even when Odell Beckham Jr. was healthy they had their ups and downs trying to generate chemistry. Odell had a monster game in Week 4 against Dallas (although everyone should have a good game against that defense) but aside from that he had just 23 catches on 42 targets in six games this season.
The offensive line was supposed to be better as well, and the Browns also brought in Austin Hooper (who also missed time with injuries). It still feels like it hasn’t been a breakthrough year for Mayfield. But the Browns are 7-3 and in good shape (for now) to make the playoffs. But do any of their wins actually stand out? They beat the Bengals twice, the Cowboys, the Football Team, the Colts, Texans, and Eagles. An argument could be made that the Cowboys game was a good win when Dak was healthy, but their defense still sucked at that point in time as well. The Colts are a pretty solid win, but overall, I’m just not that impressed with this year’s resume. If he’s going to be a game manager, then so be it. You can be a franchise quarterback as a game manager and make good money handing it off and being on pace for 3,000 passing yards in a season (which is his pace this year). I still love the guy’s personality and bravado. And if he really wants to prove everyone wrong he’s got the Jaguars on tap next week which is an opportunity for him to put up numbers followed by the Titans and Ravens. Baker needs to step up if he wants to shake off the “little brother” label for the Browns in the AFC North. And if you drafted him in fantasy, hopefully you dropped him a month ago.
The Dolphins Need Ryan Fitzpatrick Back Under Center
They’ve already announced that Tua Tagovailoa will start next week against the Jets in what should be another confidence builder of a game for Tua. Has anyone been impressed with how he’s looked while playing? He’s minimized mistakes, sure. But he looks a little undersized, hasn’t shown great arm strength, and he doesn’t look very quick. He’s also the first left-handed quarterback to start a game in the NFL in five years and he’s making us all look bad! If you are a DeVante Parker owner or you’re one of a the masochists who occasionally streams Mike Gesicki , you’re basically hoping for a touchdown each week if Tua is starting. I saw quite a few people on Twitter acknowledge that he’s coming off a pretty serious injury from college so we should temper expectations, and I have to agree with that. It might be a little unfair to be as hard on him as I am. But in terms of command and control of the offense, Ryan Fitzpatrick has that even at the ripe age of 38 (he’s a birthday boy tomorrow). It is a good sign that Brian Flores is willing to bench him when he plays poorly. However, I’m not in love with the fact that he’s willing to go back to his rookie quarterback when they’re fighting to make the playoffs and Fitzpatrick did nothing to warrant losing his job as the starter in the first place. Fortunately the Dolphins play the Jets next week and they’re a free square in the NFL. If Tua has his struggles against the Jets of all teams then they truly need to go back to Fitzpatrick if they really want a shot at making the playoffs because they finish the season against the Chiefs, Patriots, Raiders, and Bills. Do they really feel right now that Tua gives them a better shot at winning those games than Fitzpatrick?
Andy Dalton Will Resurrect The Cowboys Fantasy Prospects
After missing a few games with a concussion (and being placed on the COVID list) Andy Dalton returned following the Cowboys bye week. And he wasn’t bad either! We should add that the Vikings don’t generate much of a pass rush and it’s easy to move the ball on them. But this was the litmus test we needed to see after heavily downgrading Ezekiel Elliott , Amari Cooper , CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup the last couple weeks. But as long as Andy Dalton is under center we may be able to breathe a little more easy with more confidence in the Cowboys for fantasy. Zeke eclipsed 100 rushing yards for the first time this year and scored for the first time in over a month. Amari Cooper caught six passes for 81 yards. Lamb found the end zone, as did Dalton Schultz . Really, the biggest bust was Michael Gallup . That’s a little surprising considering Gallup and Dalton seemed to have a strong connection before the latter’s concussion. Next week they’ll face the Washington Football Team. You should feel good about starting Elliott and Cooper in these spots, but the pass rush will be much more of a challenge next week against Washington. It’s baffling that with six weeks remaining, nobody in the NFC East has four wins right now, yet all four teams are in contention to win the division.