Russell Wilson and Other Disappointing Quarterbacks

Denver Broncos QB Russell Wilson
Denver Broncos QB Russell Wilson
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 11 - Week 11 was incredibly low-scoring, but there's plenty to get through. We have rookie wide receivers stepping up, quarterbacks disappointing, and the usual injury fallouts to consider.

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals struggled against a Niners team that looks every bit ready for the playoffs, and their best plays involved Greg Dortch who has been marginalized in recent weeks. With Marquise Brown close to a return it's unlikely he stays consistently involved and the types of plays weren't those that we can count on either. Rookie tight end Trey McBride had four targets and caught all of them and should be rostered in deep leagues and tight end premium formats. Hopefully, Week 12 brings the return of both Brown and Kyler Murray and we get a glimpse of this team's potential. 

Atlanta Falcons

Last week I bemoaned the lack of early involvement for Drake London, and apparently Arthur Smith must be reading because he flipped the script. London saw all of his targets in the first half of the game, including a touchdown for the second week running. Like for much of the season, London and the Falcons passing game failed to be fantasy-relevant, but with Kyle Pitts sadly tearing his MCL, there is a good chance that London sees slightly more action going forward. He might even break his season-high of 86 yards if we all cross our fingers hard enough. Thankfully the Falcons backfield has narrowed down to a two-man affair with Caleb Huntley seeing his snaps decline for four straight weeks and only having two touches this week. The Falcons in Week 12 face the Commanders, who have the fifth-best run defense in DVOA over the last four weeks, but are more susceptible to giving up plays in the passing game. London is worth consideration in fantasy leagues and daily fantasy.

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens struggled to get going early against Carolina, and while the passing game wasn't overly threatening, Demarcus Robinson had six catches for 87 yards in the first half alone and over 100 on the day. Robinson is a player who has found his way onto the field often in part because of his excellent run-blocking, and while he's not quite in every-week fantasy consideration yet, he's worth picking up in deep leagues for friendly matchups, of which the Ravens have many coming down the pipeline. The Panthers sold out to stop the zone-read game and the Ravens will need better answers by the time the playoffs roll around. On Monday, John Harbaugh told reporters that the team needs to get Devin Duvernay more involved, but we have heard that one before and predicting Duvernay's usage will be very tricky. With Gus Edwards likely to return for the game against Jacksonville, it will muddy yet another position, and it's hard to start anyone here outside of Lamar Jackson and Mark Andrews.

Buffalo Bills

Josh Allen continues to struggle through a rough patch and had a particularly bleak first half, completing just three of his first nine pass attempts before finally connecting with Stefon Diggs for the first time of the night on a touchdown from 5 yards out. If Allen is going to continue to struggle, the Bills need to rely on their running game, and against the Browns' poor run defense, they were able to run for over 150 yards for the third time in four games. The big difference here was that Allen rushed for a season-low 7 yards whilst Devin Singletary and James Cook got the hard work done. When the Bills traded for Nyheim Hines, it seemed to be an indication they were unhappy with their pass-catching options in the backfield, but in three games since, Hines has just two offensive touches compared to 22 for Cook and 46 for Singletary. Hines is droppable in redraft along with Isaiah McKenzie, who scored zero points and hasn't broken double figures since Week 4.

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers rolled out their latest version of their offense with Baker Mayfield under center, and he dinked and dunked his way to a reasonable stat line in the first half, completing eight of 11 passes, but as anyone who saw the game will tell you, this wasn't good volume, and Baker was merely taking easy yards and was unable to involve DJ Moore, which has become a theme. Moore has played seven games with Mayfield this season and failed to reach 60 receiving yards in any of them. Terrace Marshall has somehow managed to stay consistent with 76 yards, giving him 50 or more in three of his last four games. For deeper leagues, Marshall remains a flex-worthy consideration in friendly matchups. The Panthers face the Broncos in Week 11, and whilst Denver's passing defense has slipped a little, down to eighth over the last four weeks, it's unlikely the Panthers have an adequate answer, and all skill players will be a difficult start.

Chicago Bears

Justin Fields has been lighting it up for fantasy football of late but it hasn't been enough to turn the Bears' fortunes around as they have just one win in their last eight games. Darnell Mooney scored his second touchdown in three games after failing to score any in the opening eight. The Bears' next three opponents—the Jets, Packers, and Eagles—all rank inside the top 11 in pass defense DVOA, and it might be worth looking to trade Mooney away if you can find someone enamored. Since Chase Claypool was traded to the Bears ahead of Week 9, he has totaled six touches and a total of 8.6 PPR points; with a tough schedule ahead he can be considered droppable. David Montgomery remains an every-week starter through volume alone.

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals have quietly gone about their business since starting the season off with a poor run, and Joe Burrow has been playing some really good football over the last few games. Removing the Week 8 blip against the Cleveland Browns, who often have had Burrow's number, Burrow has finished as the QB1, QB1, QB7, and QB2. Against the Steelers, Burrow completed 11 passes in a row during the first and second quarters and eclipsed over 300 total yards for the first time since Week 7. Burrow now ranks fourth in effective yards and his fortunes only look to get better with Ja'Marr Chase returning to practice. Samaje Perine had already taken two touchdowns away from Joe Mixon before Mixon was ruled out with a concussion, and if Mixon can't clear concussion protocols in time for Week 12's matchup with the Titans, Perine would see the bulk of running back duties in a tough matchup against a defense that has been the league's best against the run over the last four weeks.

Cleveland Browns

After a few poor weeks, Jacoby Brissett set a season-high in passing yards, touchdowns, and fantasy points as the Buffalo Bills completely clamped down Nick Chubb, who was held to 19 yards on 14 attempts and picked up just a single first down. Chubb's failure played a part in the Browns' inability to keep this game closer when it mattered, but likely isn't something to be concerned about moving forward. The Bills have allowed running backs to pick up yardage against them at times, but they also held Derrick Henry to 1.9 yards per carry earlier this year. Donovan Peoples-Jones has now had 60 or more receiving yards in his last five games, and dating back to Week 4 averages the 11th-most receiving yards per game amongst receivers to play six games or more in that period. Peoples-Jones will match up well in Week 12 against Tampa Bay, which ranks 23rd against WR2s.

Dallas Cowboys

Despite having a bye week in Week 9, Tony Pollard has scored the second-most PPR points amongst running backs since Week 7, with only Derrick Henry ahead of Pollard's 99.3. Ezekiel Elliott returned, and whilst he got the official start, it was noteworthy that Pollard, who ranks fifth in DYAR, had 21 touches to Elliott's 16. Pollard's efficiency was on full show, rushing for 5.3 yards per carry whilst Elliott managed 2.8. On the season, Pollard's 1.2 PPR points per touch is tied with Austin Ekeler to lead the league amongst running backs with 50 attempts or more. It's very possible we have seen Pollard surpass Elliott as the 1A in Dallas, regardless of what Elliott's contract says. The Cowboys face the Giants on Thanksgiving, and both backs can be started against a New York defense that ranks 23rd against the run and just gave up four rushing touchdowns to the Lions.

Denver Broncos

The Broncos season slipped further down the toilet with their sixth loss in their last seven games after the Raiders scored on the first possession of overtime. Russell Wilson has just one game inside the top 12 quarterbacks this season and has only passed for multiple touchdowns in one game. The only glimmer of hope for Wilson is that with a new playcaller, he completed a season-high 77% of his passes, and perhaps the Broncos can get something going against a Carolina defense that ranks 22nd over the last four weeks against the pass. Melvin Gordon fumbled for the fourth time this season, leading all running backs, and was promptly waived on Monday. It's possible Gordon finds himself in a better situation if he lands with a team that ranks better than the Broncos, who are 25th in rushing offense over the last four weeks. It seems likely that Latavius Murray will see the bulk of the work going forward, and he hould be rostered everywhere.

Detroit Lions

The Lions have made it abundantly clear for a few weeks now that Jamaal Williams is the RB1 until D'Andre Swift can get healthy and take the job, but it feels unlikely that will happen in the near future with Swift seeing 10 touches or less in each of his last six games. Williams continues to be an incredible option from inside the 10-yard line with a league-leading 10 touchdowns; Swift was even given a pity touchdown late in the game when Williams already had three. It's likely that in redraft leagues, Swift is now nothing but a roster-clogger giving you weekly headaches. Amongst the collection of tight ends the Lions have following the trade of T.J. Hockenson, none look to be fantasy-viable, but Brock Wright has seen slightly more usage than the rest with at least one target in each game and remains worth monitoring.

Green Bay Packers

Just when the Packers looked like they had some signs of life, they faltered again and lost to the Titans, who were ahead from early in the first quarter and never looked back. Christian Watson now has 14 targets in the last two games after 14 total in the previous six. His 53.8 PPR points combined in his last two games rank second amongst receivers, and his six touchdowns ranks first amongst rookie wideouts. After the Packers' Week 14 bye, they face four teams who rank in the bottom 12 in pass defense DVOA to finish the season. Watson's big plays might become pivotal in the fantasy playoffs.

Houston Texans

When teams take away Dameon Pierce, there isn't much of the Houston Texans left over. Brandin Cooks managed to surpass 60 receiving yards for the third time this season, but with his eighth scoreless game of the year, it's a constant struggle for Cooks to be relevant. In six of the last seven seasons, Cooks has had five or more touchdowns, but with just one this year he's heading towards a very bad fantasy football finish and it's no surprise that his yards per target is at 7.0, a career low. Davis Mills ranks 31st in DYAR and QBR and at this point, if he is benched it's hard to imagine Kyle Allen is much worse.

Indianapolis Colts

Despite the quarterback turmoil and issues that have surrounded the Colts, Michael Pittman has kept his head down and kept getting open, ranking seventh amongst wide receivers with 92 targets. Every other wide receiver with 90 or more targets is inside the top seven in fantasy, but Pittman is languishing as the WR17 with two performances of 20 points or more. A total of 62 players have more red zone targets than Pittman's six, and it would be a pleasant change to see him more involved there. In Week 12, the Colts face the Steelers, who have allowed a league-leading 22 passing touchdowns, presenting Pittman with an excellent opportunity to score his second touchdown of the season.

Kansas City Chiefs

Travis Kelce leads all tight ends in DYAR and effective yards and it isn't particularly close. Only Jamaal Williams has more touchdowns than Kelce's 11, which is tied for his career high with seven games of this season remaining. The Chiefs wide receivers are tricky to predict, and that has benefitted Kelce greatly. He'll likely have his greatest fantasy season of his career at age 33. Clyde Edwards-Helaire left the game with an ankle injury early on, and at that point was tied with Isaiah Pacheco on two carries apiece. Whilst we can't say for certain whether Edwards-Helaire was going to be a big part of Kansas City's game plan against a bad Chargers rushing defense, what we can say is that Pacheco took his opportunity and ran with it, becoming the first Chiefs running back to rush for 100 or more yards this season. If Edwards-Helaire should miss time, it's possible Ronald Jones is active on game day for the first time this year, but Pacheco will still be a good start against a Rams side in turmoil.

Las Vegas Raiders

Josh Jacobs got back over 100 rushing yards for the first time in four games and has back-to-back top-eight finishes after a mini-slump of two finishes outside the top 15. Jacobs now leads the position in DYAR, effective yards, and success rate, and h3will continue to see the volume required to break his career-high of 1,150 rushing yards within the next couple of games. Mack Hollins and Foster Moreau remain spot starters in friendly matchups as they continue to see reasonable volume, and in Week 12 they face a Seahawks team that ranks 28th against WR2s and 29th against tight ends.

Los Angeles Chargers

Keenan Allen's return to the lineup was much needed for both Justin Herbert and the Chargers as a whole, and thankfully he looked to finally be past the hamstring issues that have plagued him this season, turning five catches into 94 yards. Josh Palmer's 28 targets in the last three games rank fifth amongst receivers in that span. With Mike Williams suffering an aggravation of his high-ankle sprain, it's possible that Palmer continues to see a near-every-down role in a passing offense that started to look a little more like it did last year with Justin Herbert connecting with Palmer on a 50-yard touchdown bomb. The Chargers now face the Cardinals, Raiders, and Dolphins in what should all prove to be friendly passing environments.

Los Angeles Rams

Despite scoring a 62-yard touchdown in the first quarter, Tutu Atwell played just seven snaps in total as the Rams lost their fourth game in a row. There aren't many people who would describe the Atwell draft pick as anything but a reach, yet it seems logical that he should be getting more playing time considering his speed and big-play ability—at the very least, to give the Rams a little more time to appraise him. The Rams reached a season-high in rushing yards (148) as Cam Akers had the third instance all season of a Rams running back surpassing 50 yards. Akers' 14 rushing attempts were the second-most any Rams back has had in a game this year, and it seems clear he has taken the lead role back for the time being. With Matthew Stafford leaving with a concussion, it seems likely that the running backs could be leaned upon heavily if the quarterback misses any time.

Minnesota Vikings

Kirk Cousins was sacked seven times as the Minnesota offensive line struggled to cope with the Cowboys defense, and that severely hampered the Vikings' ability to get anything going as their recent luck ran out. T.J. Hockenson has now seen 28 targets in his three appearances with the Vikings, trailing only Travis Kelce amongst tight ends in that period. Hockenson ranks fourth in effective yards and in Week 12 will face a Patriots team that ranks fifth against tight ends, which should make for a good contest.

New England Patriots

The Patriots' offensive struggles continue—they now rank 26th in DVOA over the last four weeks with very little to celebrate in the passing game. Jakobi Meyers started the season with six double-digit PPR performances, but has averaged 8.3 points since. Damien Harris looked fully recovered from the injuries that bothered him earlier this season and had impressive gains of 22 and 30 yards to remind everyone he's still a slight thorn in Rhamondre Stevenson's fantasy value. Stevenson, however, has finished inside the top 15 PPR running backs every week for six weeks running now and will be a fine start on Thanksgiving against a Vikings side that had few answers for Tony Pollard in Week 11.

New Orleans Saints

Andy Dalton needed a good game to quiet the discourse around the quarterback position in New Orleans, and a win over the Rams seems like just what the doctor ordered. Rookie Chris Olave glided past Jalen Ramsey to continue his impressive season with a 53-yard touchdown. Olave is the PPR WR12 and leads all rookie skill position players in PPR points with 145. Alvin Kamara has disappeared for two weeks in a row now, and it's unlikely he rebounds in Week 12 with a matchup against a Niners defense that ranks fourth against the rush and leads the league in DVOA against running backs in the passing game.

New York Giants

After we were waxing lyrical about Daniel Jones' ball security in this column last week, Jones went on to double his interception total on the year with two interceptions against the Lions. Nevertheless, Jones has had a nice season, and his 10th-best QBR is ahead of the likes of Joe Burrow, Tom Brady, and Kyler Murray despite having far lesser options to pass to. That situation became even worse on Sunday when rookie Wan'Dale Robinson tore his ACL when he was looking like he could be a good player for the Giants this year. Saquon Barkley had his workload drastically cut down after 35 touches against the Texans in Week 10 and it's possible this was done with the short turnaround to Thanksgiving in mind. Darius Slayton has averaged 82 receiving yards over his last three appearances and can be considered a WR3 start for the rest of the season unless we see him regress.

New York Jets

Zach Wilson is a problem, and it's hard to say anything positive about the Jets this week as they lost their 14th straight game to the Patriots. Elijah Moore had his first catches since Week 4, and normally a 20% target share would be a good thing, but this week it was nearly worthless. The Jets in Week 12 play host to the Bears, who have the league's third-worst defense on the road and might be missing Justin Fields on offense. If Robert Saleh keeps faith in Wilson, it might not be the worst matchup.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles were slow out of the gate against the Colts and looked to be on course for their second straight defeat before Jalen Hurts took the game by the scruff of the neck and won it with a late rushing touchdown. Hurts leads quarterbacks with eight rushing touchdowns and has been a top-five quarterback in 70% of his games this year. With Dallas Goedert on IR, the passing game condensed, with DeVonta Smith seeing a 39% target share, up from his 25% season average, and A.J. Brown seeing a slight increase from 29% to 30%.

Pittsburgh Steelers

All it took for Najee Harris to be relevant again was an injury to an undrafted free agent rookie running back, and Harris had his first top-10 performance of the season. If Jaylen Warren should miss time, Harris will likely be a worthwhile play regardless of the matchup.

San Francisco 49ers

The Cardinals hemorrhage points to the tight end position so it wasn't surprising to see George Kittle have his second-strongest performance this season, but it was a welcome sight nonetheless as Kittle scored two touchdowns for the second time in his career. Jimmy Garoppolo has been playing better football than last year and is setting himself up for a nice free agency this offseason, but it's unlikely he finds anywhere with so many elite options who can add huge amounts of yards after the catch as he has with the Niners. Garoppolo's QB5 performance was his highest of the season and with games against Miami and New Orleans to come, he can stay relevant for a while. Deebo Samuel had his best fantasy day of the season and will finish the week as the WR5 and it was clear the team were keen to get him consistently involved after some quiet games. Samuel's 37 rushing yards were his most since Week 2 and he scored his first touchdown since Week 5. 

Tennessee Titans

Austin Hooper hasn't done much since he joined the Titans this year, but his two-touchdown game against the Packers probably did more for the Titans fans than fantasy football managers. Hooper has had two games in a row with four or more catches after never catching more than three passes in a game this year. Rookie Treylon Burks had his breakout game with seven catches for 111 yards, including catches of 43 and 51 yards. Burks led the Titans in targets, and whilst it's unlikely he keeps seeing bombs down the field every week, he has shown he's going to be a part of the team week-in and week-out. Derrick Henry has now scored 23 or more PPR points in six of his last eight games.

Washington Commanders

Taylor Heinicke is the Commanders quarterback until such time as he loses the job, and it has been a stabilizing factor for the fantasy options around him. Terry Mclaurin had an average weekly finish of 40th with Carson Wentz throwing him passes but has seen that jump all the way to 20th with Heinicke. Amongst 50 running backs with 50 or more carries, Brian Robinson's 3.4 yards per carry ranks 49th, and it will take a leap of faith to start him against the Falcons, who rank 21st against the rush over the last four weeks.

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