The bye weeks extend to Week 13 this season, on the doorstep of the fantasy playoffs. But this is the last time that four teams will enjoy their off weeks, and each of those four teams -- the Bills, Bears, Giants, and 49ers -- have at least one every-week starter in shallow formats. If you're missing one of those players on your teams, check the matchups. There are players at each position whose matchups make them excellent short-term fill-ins.
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 opponent tendencies (Opp). 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.
You can see our full weekly projections with projected stats, matchup adjustments and fantasy points by subscribing to FO+.
|Best Week 11 Matchups - Quarterbacks|
Kirk Cousins may not be near the top of your typical start list in shallow formats. He's just 21st in my true-talent quarterback rankings and is barely better at 20th in scoring this season. But a week-by-week look at his performances can clue you into the fact that Cousins can be an effective matchup play. Two poor starts have sabotaged his full-season numbers, but the first of those came in Week 2 against a Colts team that DVOA now recognizes as the No. 4 pass and overall DVOA defense, and the second came in sustained 20 mph winds in Green Bay in Week 8. Otherwise, Cousins has hit 249 or more yards in six of seven starts and two or more touchdowns in six of seven starts. I think he can reach those benchmarks again this week at home against the Cowboys. Dallas is worse defensively against the run (28th DVOA) than the pass (18th), but they have not cut opponent pass attempts even as they've been a top-three booster of run plays. And their 52% increase of passing touchdowns per attempt is the highest in football.
Jameis Winston is the most compelling quarterback in Week 11. He finished third at the position in fantasy scoring last year, but he faces risks to that standard this week beyond his previous tendencies to be liberal with interceptions. The most obvious of those is teammate Taysom Hill, for whom an increase in time under center would likely sabotage both quarterbacks' fantasy potential. But the bigger risk is with the Saints system. Drew Brees and Teddy Bridgewater have both been positional trailers with average throw depths under 6.5 yards with the team in 2019 and 2020. That is the antithesis of Winston's traditional approach that landed him second at the position with a 10.4-yard aDOT last year. It will probably help the Saints and his future free-agent value if Winston can rein in his natural aggressiveness, but that likely wouldn't help his fantasy value. And with that expectation, Winston barely cracks the QB2 standard even playing at home in the dome and against a Falcons defense that is a top-five booster of completion rate and yards per pass. I'd leave him on fantasy benches to see what happens his first week as a starter -- although I don't hate him as part of a possible low-start-percentage Saints stack in DFS tournaments with wide receivers Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.
After facing difficult defenses in the Chiefs, Ravens, and Steelers to start the season, Deshaun Watson had a streak of five straight games with 280 or more yards and multiple touchdowns snapped on Sunday. And like with those September opponents, last week was predictable. Watson has averaged 2.0 more fantasy points per game at home than on the road in his career, and any quarterback would have struggled in Cleveland last week dealing with winds gusting to 30 mph. This week, he's back home in Houston. And while the Patriots may scare you as a passing matchup at first blush, they shouldn't anymore. Opt-outs and injuries have dropped their pass defense from first in DVOA last year to 30th this year. And while they've maintained their standing as the No. 1 increaser of opponent interception rate, the Patriots also increase passing yards and touchdowns by 17% apiece per attempt, both top-10 in football.
|Worst Week 11 Matchups - Quarterbacks|
The Panthers were frisky enough of an opponent last week that the Bucs needed Tom Brady's 300-plus passing yards and three passing touchdowns to win more than the 46-23 final score would on its own would suggest. That production may also have reflected the attitude of a team that wanted to silence its critics after landing on the wrong side of a Saints blowout the prior Sunday. But whatever intention Brady has this week, he will likely face more resistance in a Rams defense that with Aaron Donald is sixth in adjusted sack rate and eighth in DVOA pass defense. Brady is at home and has little forecasted wind or chance of rain to contend with. But the Rams are a top-three cutter of both yards and touchdowns per pass attempt, and that drops him out of his usual top-10 standing to just 11th at the position this week.
After an underwhelming first career start, Tua Tagovailoa has thrown two touchdowns in consecutive games and now joins fellow rookies Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert as shallow-league considerations. I just don't think this is the week to start Tagovailoa -- or, for that matter, Burrow. The former has to travel to Denver, whose offensive struggles under Drew Lock overshadow what remains an effective defense that cuts passing yards and touchdowns by 3% and 11% per attempt. Expect the Dolphins to play conservatively and ride Salvon Ahmed and their defense to a victory. Meanwhile, Burrow faces a team with a similar narrative in Washington and even better results to date. Washington has the No. 5 DVOA pass defense and critically is the No. 1 booster of fumbles per pass attempt. The Bengals offensive line has played better than their full-season 7.8% adjusted sack rate to date, but I'm skeptical they can hold up against Chase Young and a defensive front loaded with talent and depth. Burrow may volume his way to another decent fantasy day, but he won't do it in my top 10 at the position this week.
|Best Week 11 Matchups - Running Backs|
With Dalvin Cook and James Conner as no-brainer boosts for their matchups against the Cowboys and Jaguars defenses that their teams can likely handle, attention turns to the less stable options at the position. Mike Davis has not maintained the fast pace he set with 351 total yards and three touchdowns in his first three starts in place of an injured Christian McCaffrey. But Davis' relatively poor showings of late have come against the Bears, Saints, and Bucs defenses that are all in the top five of run defense DVOA. He should have a much easier time at home against the Lions this week. They are the 27th run defense. They boost yards and touchdowns per carry by 13% and 68%, respectively. And importantly for Davis and his second-place 19.4% target share as a starter, they increase receiving yards and touchdowns per target by 18% and 128% to running backs. All four of those rate boosts are top-five in football, and Davis is a top-five running back in my rankings this week.
Jonathan Taylor has fallen short of 30 rushing yards in three straight weeks. But Nyheim Hines' 70-yard outburst against the Titans, I think, suggests the Colts prefer to ride the hot hand more so than they have wittingly demoted Taylor in favor of fellow power back Jordan Wilkins. And if that's the case, no team is a rushing slump-buster quite like the Packers. With transparent plans to run the ball in heavy winds in Green Bay in Weeks 8 and 10, the Vikings and Jaguars nevertheless enjoyed tremendous success with that approach. Dalvin Cook ran for 163 yards on 5.4 yards per carry, and James Robinson managed 109 yards on a 4.7-yard average. If Taylor sees even moderate volume in the low teens of touches, he should excel against the No. 11 booster of yards per carry and No. 1 booster of touchdowns per carry.
Kalen Ballage should enjoy a home matchup against a Jets defense that is a small booster of opponent run plays and yards and touchdowns per carry. But, frankly, I don't think he needs it to make the top five at the position with the Chargers in transition until Austin Ekeler returns from his knee injury. For much of the season, the team has relied on two backs with either Ekeler or Justin Jackson complemented by rookie Joshua Kelley. But with -118 rushing DYAR, Kelley has far and away been the least efficient heavy-workload back this season. The Chargers seemed to react to that fact with 73% to 27% snap-share and 23-to-7 touch splits last week, and I suspect they will be willing to feature Ballage again this week knowing that that heavy reliance is only temporary until Ekeler can make it back on the field.
|Worst Week 11 Matchups - Running Backs|
As the Saints have dominated their division rival Bucs in their head-to-head games this season, they have also usurped the Bucs' traditional place atop the bad matchups list for opposing running backs. Vince and Aaron have each written about the Saints run defense this week, but I'll add some fantasy-specific context, which is that the team has coupled its 21% and 52% reductions to yards and touchdowns per carry with a top-five cutting of run plays by 12%. Maybe Jameis Winston will change that equation, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the Saints build a lead in the Superdome that forces the Falcons to abandon the run -- bad news for Todd Gurley who falls from 14th in true talent to 17th at the position this week.
The last time we saw Derrick Henry face the Ravens, he ran them out of the 2019 playoffs with 195 yards on 30 carries. And after the Patriots pulled off their rain-soaked upset with 39 runs against just 18 passes, there is little doubt the Titans will try to do the same thing this Sunday. I'm just not sure it will be as easy as it seems. The Ravens faced a confluence of challenges against the Patriots last week in the rain and in their injuries to linemen Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams that made it difficult for them to stop the run. But for the season, they are third in run defense DVOA. If Campbell and Williams are both no-goes this weekend, then you can probably throw this doubt out of the window. But if either or both plays and the elements don't disrupt their offensive rhythm, then the Ravens seem better equipped to control this game facing a Titans defense that is 19th in run defense DVOA even at full strength. Henry may have success on the touches he has, but he won't approach his 30 from last season if the Ravens can build a lead and force the Titans to rely more heavily on the pass.
|Best Week 11 Matchups - Wide Receivers|
Wide receivers broke out early and often this season such that relative fantasy newcomers Justin Jefferson, Chase Claypool, and Travis Fulgham have more than a month of consistent production to support their fantasy managers' confidence in them. Michael Pittman and Jakobi Meyers don't have comparable track records, but they do boast 19.7% and 38.5% target shares the last two and four weeks that lead their teams. Meyers even leads the position over the last month, just edging Davante Adams' 38.2% target share. And that's enough for me to rely on Pittman and Meyers as respective No. 3 and No. 2 fantasy receivers this week with tremendous matchups against the Packers and Texans. The Packers have been a top-five booster of No. 1 receiver yards and touchdowns per target this season. And while the Patriots will likely rely heavily on the run against a Texans team whose No. 32 DVOA run defense encourages a 20% increase in run plays, Meyers should trade a few targets for a dramatically improved chance to score -- the Texans boost No. 1 receiver touchdowns per target by 98%.
It's weird to say about the NFL record-holder for receptions in a season, but Michael Thomas is just 27th among wide receivers with a 12.3% target share since his Week 9 return. Fortunately, he has a Falcons matchup to right the ship. Although they've been neutral for touchdown-scoring, Atlanta has increased No. 1 receiver yards by 24% per target, second-most in football. Even with the expectations of a more conservative Jameis Winston, that makes Thomas a WR2 this week. And his upside is obviously tremendous.
|Worst Week 11 Matchups - Wide Receivers|
The Bucs haven't faced a ton of fantasy-relevant slot receivers this season. Hunter Renfrow in Week 7 and Golden Tate in Week 8 (before the drama about his playing time) are the best precedents for Cooper Kupp this week, and they combined for just six catches and 73 yards. As you've undoubtedly heard during broadcasts of their games, Devin White and Lavonte David may be the fastest linebacker pair in football. Kupp remains in my top 30 at the position based on his volume. His 78 targets this season are 12th-most among all players. But don't expect his typical WR2 production this week on the road in a difficult matchup.
Despite Drew Lock's efforts to sabotage with turnovers, Jerry Jeudy has joined the impressive list of rookie receivers providing consistent fantasy production. He has at least eight targets and 68 yards in each of his last three games. The targets could be there again in Week 11, but the production may not be against a surging Dolphins team. Their rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is grabbing the headlines, but their defense deserves a ton of credit. Specifically, their pass defense is up to eighth in DVOA with excellent cover corners Xavien Howard and Byron Jones blanketing either sideline. Unsurprisingly, the team cuts No. 1 receiver yards and touchdowns by 23% and 63% per target, both top-five in football.
|Best Week 11 Matchups - Tight Ends|
Hunter Henry may be the lone victim of the Chargers' transition from Tyrod Taylor to Justin Herbert. The first three weeks of this season, Henry contributed standout totals of 73, 83, and 50 yards. But since Herbert has settled in, Henry has fallen short of 40 yards for six straight weeks. I think that could change this week. The Jets are one of the best defenses for opposing tight ends to face. They are a top-six booster of completion rate, yards per target, and touchdowns per target to the position. And unlike many bad teams, the Jets don't decrease their opponents' pass plays -- probably because their pass defense (32nd in DVOA) is dramatically worse than their run defense (10th).
Lost in Drew Brees' injury on Sunday was tight end Jared Cook's shutout. He only had two targets and didn't catch either of them. And while it may not help him that the Saints will likely turn to Jameis Winston while Brees recovers, Sunday's letdown was likely more about the matchup than the quarterback. The 49ers cut yards and touchdowns by 13% and 53% per target to tight ends. Cook's opponent this week, the Falcons, increase those efficiencies by 27% and 107%. With the boost, Cook remains a borderline TE1 option this week.
Fantasy players have no doubt grown used to even second-tier fantasy tight ends such as Cook having weeks with little or no value. But it has been frustrating to see one of the few presumed elite players at the position held to an average of 34 yards per game and without a touchdown over the last month. Mark Andrews didn't have to worry about matchups last year when the Ravens offense was humming and he scored a touchdown every six quarters, but this season, they seem to matter for him. Fortunately his difficult stretch is behind him. The Steelers, Colts, and Patriots from the last three weeks are the three biggest cutters of tight end touchdown rate at 88% or higher. This week, the Titans are a top-10 booster of yards and touchdowns per target to tight ends, and Andrews is back in his traditional place in the top five at the position.
|Worst Week 11 Matchups - Tight Ends|
The Raiders are the most surprising defense to see as a minus matchup for opposing tight ends. But even their projected loss of more than a fantasy point of is not enough to knock Travis Kelce from the No. 1 ranking among tight ends. And as such, Noah Fant becomes the player to discuss at the position. The Dolphins may owe the bulk of the top-10 DVOA pass defense rating to their aforementioned cornerbacks, but they enjoy a similar ranking in their defense against tight ends. Fighting through an ankle sprain, Fant hasn't matched his early-season production in recent weeks. You may not have a better alternative in traditional formats. But given his matchup in Week 11, I'd at least avoid Fant in all daily formats.
|Best Week 11 Matchups - Kickers|
Weather isn't the same concern this week that it was in Weeks 8 and 10, but the top four kicker gainers all play their Week 11 games at home in domes. The Jets, Patriots, and Jets are all bottom-third DVOA defenses, so it's little surprise to see they boost short field goal attempts. The Chiefs aren't that, but they have at least increased long attempts to offset some of their forced losses of shorter attempts -- teams are smart enough to know that they need touchdowns in the red zone to keep up with the Chiefs offense. Daniel Carlson doesn't make it all the way to my top 10 at the position, but his gains from playing at home motivate a rankings jump to 12th.
|Worst Week 11 Matchups - Kickers|
With a forecast of 50 degrees and minimal wind in the light air in Denver, Brandon McManus could likely make a kick from close to 60 yards this Sunday. I'm just not sure he'll have many opportunities facing the heavily discussed Dolphins defense. Their improvements there have led to top-three cuts in opponent short and long field goal attempts this season. Kickers have attempted just four field goals combined in the three games since Tua Tagovailoa took over as starter.
The Ravens won't have to contend with torrential rains this weekend, but that doesn't mean they and the Titans should expect a shootout with a bunch of field goals. They may be on opposite sides of the defensive DVOA spectrum, but the Ravens and Titans mirror each other as the respective second and 10th cutters and 10th and second cutters of short and long field goal tries this season. Justin Tucker is too accurate to ever sit, but Stephen Gostkowski at least belongs on your benches.
|Best Week 11 Matchups - Defenses|
Joe Burrow has an exceptional 1.4% interception rate in his rookie season, but he could be under extreme duress on Sunday even by his typically elevated standards. Washington trails only the Steelers with a 9.5% adjusted sack rate, and that has motivated their 34% increase in opponent interceptions.
Speaking of the Steelers, they land the No. 2 spot in this week's defensive projections. Their balanced pass and run defenses won't allow the Jaguars to ride running back James Robinson the way they did last week against the Packers. Sixth-round rookie quarterback Jake Luton will have to be involved, and that could mean turnovers against a top-10 increaser of both sacks and interceptions per pass attempt.
Meanwhile, you can probably guess which defense jumped the Steelers for the top spot this week. It seems like I've discussed the Dolphins defense in every section, so it shouldn't be any surprise to find their fantasy defense projected to excel against Drew Lock riding his five-game interception streak.
|Worst Week 11 Matchups - Defenses|
Compared to the Chiefs and Falcons, the Colts and Browns are not scary offenses. But they remain ones to avoid in fantasy because of their proclivities for running the ball. It's difficult for Philip Rivers and Baker Mayfield to turn the ball over when they drop back 30 or fewer times, regular occurrences this season when the game scripts have developed in their favors. And while the Packers and Eagles may not be the Jets or Bengals as far as appealing matchups go, both opponents have defensive weaknesses that can allow teams to control the game.