Start and Sit: Week 11
Coming off a week with six teams on bye, Week 11's total of four bye teams seems small and manageable. But with potent offenses in the Packers and Seahawks taking the weekend off, fantasy owners are down a slew of stars at every fantasy position. That, coupled with a handful of dome games and more than half of the week's outdoor games featuring sub-50-degree temperatures and forecasted winds, makes for another important week of matchup plays.
The following tables feature the players with the best and worst matchups of the week. Each listed player shows a true-talent (TT) ranking that represents how I would rank him with a perfectly neutral game context. Then, that ranking is adjusted by adding the context of the venue (Ven) -- home and road and dome and outside -- the forecasted weather (Wea), and the defensive tendencies of the opponent (Def). The line beneath those rankings shows how much those contextual factors move projected PPR fantasy points. That total (Tot) number gives you a comprehensive estimate of how many fantasy points the player will score this week more or less than his typical total.
Derek Carr concludes his three-game homestand against the Bengals this Sunday with extra rest coming off of last Thursday's game against the Chargers. And the Bengals are a much better defensive matchup than those Chargers. They have the No. 32 DVOA pass defense, increase passing yards per attempt by 32% (the most in football) and passing touchdowns per attempt by 43% (third-most).
Jimmy Garoppolo has a day less of rest to contend with since he played in that Monday night classic against the Seahawks, but a home start against the Cardinals should ease that burden. The Cardinals have the No. 26 DVOA pass defense and increase pass touchdowns by 32% per attempt. And unlike most bad teams, the Cardinals actually increase their opponents' pass plays by 5%.
Philip Rivers was on the other side of that Raiders-Chargers matchup last Thursday and suffered his worst performance of 2019. I don't think that one outing should scare you off the rest of his season. Rivers still has a 7.9% DVOA this year that is better than what he produced in 2012, 2015, and 2016. Still, Rivers' plus matchup against the Chiefs on Monday night carries some red flags. The Chiefs' 2% boost for pass plays and 3% boost for passing touchdowns per attempt do not coincide with the team's defensive strength against the pass (No. 5 DVOA) and weakness against the run (No. 31). And that tendency could be exacerbated by a 40% chance of rain in Mexico City, where the game is being played. I'm more confident in Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler for fantasy this week. But Rivers might still make sense as part of a Chargers-Chiefs stack for a DFS tournament.
Kyle Allen's and Dwayne Haskins' plus matchups this week are more straightforward. Allen is at home against a Falcons defense that is much weaker against the pass (No. 31 DVOA) than the run (No. 10). They also increase passing yards per attempt by 13% and passing touchdowns per attempt by 40%, the fourth-most in football. Haskins is also at home and faces a Jets defense with similar tendencies. They are No. 24 in DVOA against the pass versus No. 2 against the run, and they increase pass plays by 7% and passing touchdowns by 13% per attempt. Both Allen and Haskins will have to contend with cold temperatures and moderate winds, but they still jump into the back end of my quarterbacks this week from their normal rankings as QB3s.
Kyler Murray overcame the difficult 49ers matchup with 241 yards and two touchdowns two weeks ago, but he did that at home in Arizona. This week, he'll have to try again in San Francisco. No one has thrown three touchdowns against the 49ers this season. Russell Wilson managed just one on Monday night, and overall, San Francisco cuts passing touchdowns per attempt by 37%. They also cut yards per attempt by 14% and pass plays by 21%, the most in football. And they have the No. 1 DVOA pass defense. With pretty much everything stacked against him but poor weather, Murray falls from No. 6 in my true talent quarterback rankings to 17th for the week.
Carson Wentz suffers a similarly steep fall from 10th to 23rd facing the New England defense. Like the 49ers, the Patriots have an exceptional pass defense (No. 2 DVOA). They reduce their opponents' passing yards and touchdowns per attempt by 24% and 64%, both the most in football. Their relative weakness against the run (No. 14) will likely induce the Eagles to decrease their pass attempts and increase their run attempts, especially playing at home in 41-degree weather with forecasted winds at 14 miles per hour, the highest on the schedule this week.
Deshaun Watson never falls too far for bad matchups. I still have him fourth at the position this week. But a road game against the Ravens is definitely a bad matchup. Even though their defensive personnel is weaker than it was a year ago, the Ravens still decrease passing touchdowns per attempt by 47%, fourth-most in football. And like the Patriots, the Ravens encourage their opponents to run the ball against a defense that is weaker against the run (No. 28) than the pass (No. 8).
Kirk Cousins seems red-hot coming off of five passing touchdowns in his last two games and at least two passing touchdowns in five of his last six games. But while manifesting as a first-half/second-half split, I believe Cousins' fantasy successes and failures have more to do with the quality of his opponents than the timing of them. He is completing a much higher percentage of his passes (80.8%) against teams that are in the bottom half of overall DVOA, but the Vikings are throwing the ball much less against them, especially in the red zone. When the Vikings have faced bad teams like the Falcons and Redskins, they've been able to control the game with a run-focused offense that has limited Cousins' production to 12.7 fantasy points per game.
Cousins draws one of those bottom-half DVOA teams in the Broncos (No. 21) this week, and he draws them at home in Minnesota. That will likely lead to a Dalvin Cook-dominated offensive day for the Vikings, and the Broncos defense also decreases passing yards per attempt by 15% and passing touchdowns per attempt by 52%, the second-most in football. Leave Cousins on your shallow-league benches this week.
Nick Foles is set to make his return from injured reserve on Sunday, but he will likely have a difficult first day in Indianapolis against the Colts with their own returning starter, Jacoby Brissett. The Colts decrease passing yards and touchdowns per attempt by 12% and 32%, respectively, and they are stronger against the pass (No. 6 DVOA) than the run (No. 23).
Josh Jacobs jumped on my splits radar several weeks ago, and he has only furthered my confidence in his home and road splits the last two weeks after scoring three more touchdowns at home in Oakland. He has now scored all seven of his touchdowns this season at home and is averaging more than twice as many fantasy points there as he does on the road.
At home against the Bengals this week, he could have a massive fantasy day. The Bengals increase run plays by 19%, second-most in football. And they have the No. 29 DVOA run defense, increasing rushing yards and touchdowns by 19% and 33%, respectively. I have Jacobs third at the position this week.
Just two spots behind Jacobs in my rankings, Brian Hill is an incredible DraftKings bargain at just $4,800. With Devonta Freeman unlikely to play, Hill should once again be the Falcons' featured option this week. He touched the ball 21 times after Freeman left injured a week ago. Meanwhile, Hill draws the best possible opponent for his fantasy success in the Panthers this week. Their defense is much weaker against the run (No. 32) than the pass (No. 3), and they increase rushing yards per attempt by 19% and rushing touchdowns per attempt by 176%, far and away the most in football.
For fantasy players less interested in risk, they can roll with reliable Ezekiel Elliott in a plus matchup. He visits the Lions defense that is No. 20 in DVOA against the run and that increases run plays by 12% and rushing touchdowns by 5% per attempt. And barring a blowout, Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler have even better matchups against the Chiefs in Mexico City. The Chiefs are No. 31 in DVOA against the run and No. 5 against the pass. They increase rushing yards and touchdowns per attempt by 20% and 30% respectively, and unlike most exceptional offensive teams, they also increase run plays by 5%. Gordon in particular looks like an excellent fantasy option. After starting slow in his return from a holdout, he has turned in a positive DVOA performance in three consecutive weeks.
And finally, Le'Veon Bell draws an attractive matchup against the Redskins. The Redskins slightly decrease rushing yards and touchdowns per attempt, but that seems likely to regress given their No. 19 DVOA run defense. Meanwhile, the Redskins increase their opponents' run plays by 20%, the most in football. That more than makes up for any loss of efficiency. Bell should see a ton of work this week, especially with the cold temperatures and moderate winds forecasted in Washington on Sunday.
The Ravens may break the mold for NFL offenses, but I still expect Mark Ingram to struggle in fantasy on Sunday at home against the Texans. The Texans are stronger against the run (No. 6 DVOA) than the pass (No. 20), and they cut rushing yards per attempt by 13% and rushing touchdowns per attempt by 65%, the second-most in football. They also cut run plays by 20%, the most in football, and will likely make it harder for the Ravens to rely on the ground game than many of their previous tough opponents like the Patriots and Chiefs, who had stronger pass defenses than run defenses.
With Mike Davis released, there's no question that David Montgomery is the Bears' workhorse back. As such, he never falls too far for a bad matchup. But I still dropped him outside my top 20 at the position this week, playing against the Rams in Los Angeles. The Rams are stronger against the run (No. 3 DVOA) than the pass (No. 16), and they cut rushing yards and touchdowns per attempt by 30% and 57%, respectively, both in the top four in football.
Traditionally, I held Nick Chubb in my top 10 even in bad matchups, but I think Kareem Hunt's return to the Browns roster has changed that equation. Hunt saw nine targets in his team debut, and even though he lined up out wide at times and will likely play in concert with Chubb, he will still likely decrease Chubb's involvement in the passing game. As such, I've dropped Chubb to 15th in my true talent rankings and dropped him further to 20th this week playing against the Steelers. The Steelers have the No. 11 DVOA run defense, and they cut rushing yards per attempt by 16% and rushing touchdowns per attempt by 59%, third-most in football.
Ronald Jones hasn't quite made the workload leap that fantasy owners were hoping for, and that has held him back in true talent flex territory. This week against the Saints, he falls to the back end of my top 30, facing the No. 7 DVOA run defense. The Saints cut rushing yards and touchdowns per attempt by 19% and 4%, and they cut run plays by 19%, second-most in football.
Kenyan Drake has enjoyed a bit more run that Jones of late, but with David Johnson now healthy, he may end up in a shared workload with similar value. I have him 31st in true talent, and he falls to 33rd this week facing the 49ers. The 49ers are better against the pass (No. 1 DVOA) than the run (No. 17), but that excellent overall defense still helps them cut run plays by 5% and rushing touchdowns per attempt by 44%. Neither Drake nor Johnson are attractive options this week against them.
Phillip Lindsay is a bit better off than either Jones or Drake in terms of team workload, but he draws an even worse matchup on the road against the Vikings. The Vikings have the No. 5 DVOA run defense. They cut run plays by 9% and rushing touchdowns by 71% per attempt, the most in football.
Rookie receiver Deebo Samuel set career highs with 11 targets, eight catches, and 112 yards in relief of an injured Emmanuel Sanders on Monday night. And with Sanders looking like a game-time decision at best for Sunday, Samuel is poised to find himself as the team's No. 1 option in a fantasy-friendly matchup. Beyond their general boosting of pass plays and touchdowns and No. 26 overall pass defense, the Cardinals are No. 29 in DVOA against No. 1 receivers (subscription required). And Patrick Peterson's return to the lineup has not righted the ship. He has just a 37% coverage success rate this season and is allowing 10.5 yards per target in his four starts this year. If Samuel is the guy, expect a strong fantasy day.
Across the bay, Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfow will likely also enjoy productive Sundays. In addition to their poor run defense, the Bengals have the No. 32 DVOA pass defense and are No. 30 against No. 1 receivers and No. 27 against "other" wide receivers. Injuries aside, Williams has been a consistent top-20 fantasy receiver this season, but Renfrow has recently joined him as a reliable Raiders target. After falling short of 40 yards every week from Week 1 to 7, Renfrow has exceeded that benchmark in three straight games. I've bumped him to 35th in true talent, and the plus matchup elevates him to 30th for me this week.
Still seeing nearly 50% of the Saints' target volume, Michael Thomas is my No. 1 fantasy receiver pretty much every week. But it isn't every week that Thomas draws a matchup like this one against the Buccaneers that justifies his $9,900 DraftKings price. The Bucs increase pass plays by 21% (the most in football) and passing touchdowns per attempt by 46% (second-most). Meanwhile, their No. 27 DVOA pass defense is particularly weak -- No. 21 and No. 31 -- against No. 1 and No. 2 wide receivers. They are much stronger against other wide receivers (No. 8) and are No. 1 in DVOA against the run and against targeted running backs. They even released cornerback Vernon Hargreaves this week after he was torched by Christian Kirk on Sunday. All of those factors could conspire to skew even work and production toward Thomas in this game. And sophomore receiver Tre'Quan Smith could be a beneficiary, as well.
Rookie Terry McLaurin has quickly become the Redskins' top receiving option, and his Jets matchup will certainly help. The Jets are a bottom-10 DVOA pass defense against No. 1 and 2 wide receivers and generally perform better against the run (No. 2 DVOA) than the pass (No. 24). That said, my No. 15 weekly ranking may overstate McLaurin's fantasy appeal a bit. He has shown marked quarterback splits so far this season, averaging 74 yards and 1.0 touchdowns per game with Case Keenum at quarterback and 43 and 0.0 without him. Haskins and McLaurin are a gamble, but that might make them an intriguing DFS stack since both players are relatively inexpensive.
You likely have two more days to trade away Christian Kirk to cash in on his 138-yard, three-touchdown performance in an attractive matchup against the Bucs last week. This week, he and teammate Larry Fitzgerald will have to contend with the 49ers defense that held them to 46 combined yards two weeks ago. The 49ers' No. 1 DVOA pass defense is top-12 against every receiver grouping, so there are not any Cardinals I'm eager to start this week.
Alshon Jeffery may have cemented himself as the Eagles' No. 1 receiver with DeSean Jackson landing on injured reserve, but Jeffery is far from that in fantasy this week against the Patriots. The Patriots' No. 2 DVOA pass defense is particularly strong against No. 1 and 2 wide receivers, where they are fifth and first in DVOA. That, coupled with forecasted cold temperatures and moderate winds, will likely make it tough on the Eagles' deep passing attack. Jordan Howard may be the team's best fantasy option for this week.
Like his quarterback, Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill is tending toward being matchup-proof. A bad one for him this week drops him to just fourth among wide receivers for me. That said, the Chargers are a bad matchup for No. 1 receivers, where their No. 11 DVOA is dramatically better than their overall pass defense (No. 21 DVOA). Playing on Monday in a game with a 40% chance of rain that could dramatically alter the Chiefs offensive approach, Hill carries unusual risk this week.
DeAndre Hopkins has finally busted out of his touchdown slump with a pair of scores over the past three weeks. But that may be a tall order to continue in Week 11, facing a Ravens defense that is No. 8 in pass defense and No. 8 against No. 1 receivers. Hopkins will likely draw the unenviable distinction of shadow coverage from Marlon Humphrey, who has a 67% coverage success rate that is second-best among qualified cornerbacks this season (subscription required). Avoid him this week in DFS, where his $8,100 price tag fails to capture the difficulty of his matchup.
Like his teammate Sanders, George Kittle may end up being a game-time decision against the Cardinals this weekend. Hopefully he'll play because he is unlikely to face a matchup this enticing at any point the rest of this season. The Cardinals have the No. 32 DVOA defense against tight ends and allow 8.3 targets and 86 yards per game to the position each week. The matchup is so good that backup Ross Dwelley would likely become a top-10 option if Kittle were to miss another week. Dwelley didn't produce much for fantasy last week, but he played 92% of the team's offensive snaps and saw seven targets. That workload would bode well for his success in this matchup.
Darren Waller has seen diminished target volume in recent weeks, but there's nothing like a Bengals matchup to bust you out of your slump. The Bengals are the No. 31 DVOA defense against tight ends, and their general increasing of passing touchdowns by 43% should particularly benefit Waller and Tyrell Williams in the Raiders offense.
Kyle Allen had only targeted tight end Greg Olsen 4.5 times per game entering Week 10, but then he threw 10 passes his way in the cold and snow in Green Bay. I suspect that game foreshadowed a future trend for Allen as the weather starts to decline for an outdoor team in late November and December. In fact, Allen will have to deal with 43-degree temperatures and moderate winds on Sunday in Charlotte. That boosts Olsen back into my top 10 at the position this week facing a Falcons defense that is No. 18 in DVOA against the position. And division rival Jared Cook should enjoy similar success in Tampa Bay. Drew Brees tends to perform markedly better at home than on the road, but the Bucs matchup is one of the best for tight ends in football. They are No. 29 in DVOA and allow 9.1 targets and 84 yards per game to the position.
Tyler Eifert will not enjoy the same shallow-league relevance as Olsen and Cook this week, but a Raiders matchup does jump him to 27th in my tight end rankings this week and make him a deep-league option. The Raiders are middle-of-the-pack with a No. 15 DVOA against the position, but they are still allowing a healthy 8.1 targets and 65 yards per game to tight ends. Making his first road start, rookie Ryan Finley may choose to rely more on his tight ends this week, especially with A.J. Green trending toward another missed week.
The fearsome Patriots pass defense does its best work against wide receivers, but it is still formidable with the No. 9 DVOA defense against tight ends. Their opponents have gotten meager production from the position with just 4.4 targets and 34 yards per game. Zach Ertz is relatively immune to matchups, so I've dropped him to just sixth at the position this week. But Dallas Goedert falls to the back end of my top 20 despite his uptick in production from the last month.
Like his teammate Hill, Travis Kelce is relatively immune to bad matchups, but Kelce suffers from a more obvious bad one this week against the Chargers. The Chargers have the No. 6 DVOA defense against tight ends and are allowing just 5.1 targets and 42 yards per game to the position. The Browns are much worse in terms of defensive efficiency with the No. 24 DVOA defense against tight ends, but they aren't yielding more production. Tight ends are averaging just 4.5 targets and 48 yards per game against them, and Vance McDonald drops to 15th at the position for me playing on the road.
Finally, Ben Watson faces off with an Eagles team in Philadelphia that is more susceptible to wide receivers (No. 16 DVOA or worse against every wide receiver grouping) than to tight ends (No. 10). With Mohamed Sanu now integrated with the team and possibly with rookie N'Keal Harry joining the offensive fold, Watson seems unlikely to better the Eagles' opponent average of 6.4 targets and 40 yards per game this season.