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Tue Nov 23rd 2021

2021 Week Eleven Review

Week eleven in the NFL surprised us again with several upsets, some back-and-forth battles, game-winning fantasy performances, and game-losing fantasy performances. The afternoon games disappointed me, but the nine games at noon were fun to watch from a fantasy perspective. Then came Sunday night, where fantasy games were won and lost in the back and forth battle between the Steelers and Chargers.

It was not fun to play against Justin Herbert or Austin Ekeler Sunday night, and I should know because I lost five games during that Sunday night battle while winning three at the same time. After a season-best 8-2 week last week, my teams came crashing down this week, finishing 3-7. It was a brutal week. I have to pause on weeks like this to remind myself that win or lose, it's a joy to watch football all weekend and cheer on all of my dynasty teams.

After following all of the games this week, here are a few of my thoughts on players and situations and their impact on our dynasty teams.

Ten Observations From Week Eleven

Quarterback Killers

  • This week several every-week starting quarterbacks had pathetic outings, and most of them brought the entire fantasy production of their teams down with them. Dak Prescott scored four fantasy points, Russell Wilson 11, Patrick Mahomes 10, Ryan Tannehill 12, and Joe Burrow 10. Mahomes and Burrow had lousy fantasy days while still leading his team to touchdowns. Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott, and Ryan Tannehill were baffled by defenses and unable to help their NFL teams or dynasty teams. Some of the every-week starters had modest fantasy days despite their teams' bad quarterback play. Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Clyde Edwards-Hellaire, Ja'Maar Chase, Dalton Schultz, and Tyler Lockett didn't kill dynasty teams. Joe Mixon was the only player who exceeded his fantasy expectation. Other players on these teams sunk their dynasty teams with poor performances like CeeDee Lamb, Ezekiel Elliot, Tee Higgins, D.K. Metcalf, and A.J. Brown, who left the game with injuries. So much of week-to-week fantasy production comes through quarterbacks, so it's frustrating to have a week when so many underperformed.

Second-Year Breakouts

  • It's always fun to see a player you've let develop on your bench have a game that moves them into a startable option for you. Darnell Mooney and Adam Trautman did that this week. With Allen Robinson out, Mooney got sixteen targets. He only caught five passes, but he turned them into 121 yards and a touchdown. His target share has been increasing in recent weeks, and he now has 50% more targets than Allen Robinson. He's becoming the WR-1 for the Bears. Adam Trautman has seen his target share come up in recent weeks too, and he had his best game of the year with eight targets, five catches, 58 yards, and a touchdown. Dynasty managers who kept Trautman are glad they were patient with him, and those who picked him up off waivers, like happened in one of my leagues this week, feel pretty smart after last week. Mooney has moved into a startable player every week, and Trautman is a streamable tight end if he continues to get 6.5 targets per game as he has averaged over the last four weeks.

Second-Year Busts

  • I will maintain my patience with two second-year players, but I'm afraid to say that they appear to be busts. I had high hopes that Jalen Reagor would shine in his second season and prove that he is worthy of the first-round draft pick dynasty managers spent on him two years ago. It looks like it after his touchdown and 14-point week one, but the ten games since he's scored a total of 29 fantasy points. It's so hard for me to believe that this is who he is, but the evidence is mounting that he will not be what I thought he would be. Philadelphia is now committed to their running game, and DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert demand the bulk of the limited targets on the team. I also hoped for a second-year breakout for Bryan Edwards, which feels more like a first-year breakout since he missed almost all of last year with an injury. He had a few good games this season, but his target share is too low to ever become what I hoped he could. In eleven games, he only has 21 catches. While Hunter Renfrow has 56 catches and Darren Waller has 56. Even with Henry Ruggs off the team, Edwards has not been able to demand more targets. I have slightly more hope for Edwards than Reagor at this point, but my hope for both of them is waning. I won't cut them, but it's hard at this point to ever imagine inserting them into my starting lineups. I've yet to do so, and we're almost two years into their career.

Seattle Slew

  • The Seahawks are imploding. It's the worst the team has looked under coach Carroll and Russell Wilson. The Seahawks traditionally won with great defense and a strong running game, while Russell Wilson was one of the league's most fantasy-efficient point scorers. This season they are 30th in total offense per game, 28th in passing yards per game, 23rd in rushing yards per game, and 25th in points per game. The offense is not working anymore, and the Seahawks require an overhaul. The battle between Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll is drawn, and I believe one of the two will not be with the team next year. I think dysfunction will settle in on the team over the next seven weeks, costing dynasty teams with Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, and Russell Wilson on their rosters to stumble down the stretch as the Seahawks do too.

Backup Victories

  • Two backup quarterbacks win the day to keep their teams atop their divisions. Colt McCoy threw for 328 yards and two touchdowns, leading the team to a second win in three weeks as the starter. Most of his production came from dink and dunk passes to Rondale Moore, who had eleven catches, and James Conner, who had five. He threw deep balls to A.J. Green too. Zach Ertz benefitted the most with eight catches for 88 yards and two touchdowns. Ertz looked like the excellent downfield and red-zone target that he used to be in Philadelphia. He's proving that he's healthy and more than capable of playing that way again, but it's also possible that his increased involvement is based on a connection with McCoy or the absence of DeAndre Hopkins and Chase Edmonds the last few weeks. For the time being, he's revitalized his dynasty value, and his value will increase if he does the same things when Kyler Murray returns after the bye week. Tyler Huntley didn't have a great fantasy day as Colt McCoy did, but he did lead his team on a game-winning drive in the last minute of the game. He did enough to make Mark Andrews productive and threw a few pretty passes downfield on the final drive to win the game. Like Ertz, Devonta Freeman has come back from the dynasty dead. He's the clear leading running back for Baltimore. He's getting the most touches, 24 on Sunday, and he looks far better than Latavius Murray on film. He got the game-winning touchdown run and finished with 17 fantasy points this week. Freeman is doing enough to get signed by another team this offseason after J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards return to the Ravens. 

Winning Streaks

  • Several teams are getting hot just in time to position themselves for the playoffs. The Patriots are the hottest team and are on a five-game winning streak. Now they are on top of the AFC East, one game above Buffalo, who was upset by the Colts on Sunday. Sadly, the Patriots' winning streak has not resulted in a lot of fantasy goodness. Mac Jones distributes the ball evenly, and the backfield is becoming even more of a split backfield with the emergence of Rhamondre Stevenson to compete with Damian Harris. The Colts are on a three-game winning streak and are in wildcard contention after dismantling the Bills on Sunday. They're rightfully riding the back of Jonathan Taylor to wins. He scored five of his ten touchdowns on Sunday and won fantasy games for his managers. This week, Michael Pittman had a bad week because the Colts did not need to pass in this game, but Pittman has become an every-week-starter during this win streak, and his dynasty value is rising quickly. He's moved up to #19 in my wide receiver rankings. The Chiefs are on a four-game winning streak and have taken the lead in the AFC West. Patrick Mahomes may not be winning games for fantasy teams like he used to, but he's at least helping Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce meet expectations over this winning streak. I think there are week-winning games ahead for these three Chiefs, even if they have just been decent over the last four weeks. Winning streaks on NFL teams often lead to winning streaks for dynasty teams. I know I started the season 1-4 in my longest-standing Freek league, but after a six-game winning streak, I am in position for a top-two seed and a bye week.  

Winning The Job

  • At various points this season, I thought Jalen Hurts and Taylor Heinicke would lose their jobs and almost certainly be replaced next season, but I am beginning to change my mind about them both. The Eagles have changed their offense, and Hurts is now winning NFL games, not just fantasy games. The Eagles look more like a college team than a traditional NFL team, but it's leading to wins. They're running the ball more than any team in the league right now when you include quarterback runs and scrambles. Hurts ran the ball 18 times on Sunday, and his running backs ran the ball a combined 32 times. That's 50 rushing plays. Hurts only completed 13 of 24 passes, just over 50%, but with their production running the ball, that's all he needs to do to win games for his NFL team and our dynasty teams. It's unconventional, but it's working. He may be the long-term starter for Philadelphia after all. Taylor Heinicke had the best game of his young career on Sunday. It was not the most productive fantasy day, though he did throw for three touchdowns, but it was the best game on film that he has played. His quarterback rating was 141.3 as he protected the ball, targeted his best receiver, Terry McLaurin, seven times, and led the team on five scoring drives and a big road win in Carolina. Last week it was announced that Ryan Fitzpatrick would not return to the team this season. Meaning, Heinicke has seven more games to audition for the starting role in the future. With each win, he makes it harder for the Football Team to be in a position to draft a quarterback. I have changed my tune on him too, and I think he can be a future starting quarterback for his team. 

Rookies Rising

  • Elijah Moore has been on fire the last four weeks and is making his claim to be the second-best wide receiver in this rookie class. Ja'Maar Chase is rightfully the #1 ranked rookie in this class, and DeVonta Smith has done enough to claim the #2 position. Jaylen Waddle, Justin Bateman, and Rondale Moore have produced well and are fighting for the #3 spot but have not done enough to make me think they could jump Smith in my rankings. Elijah Moore, on the other hand, has every chance to do so. He had his best fantasy game of the season on Sunday with 25 points, and he's averaged six catches, 84 yards, and one touchdown per game over the last four weeks, and he's doing that with backup quarterbacks. If he keeps up this pace, he'll undoubtedly jump ahead of Devonta Smith in my wide receiver rankings to become the second-best rookie in this class. He'd have to do a lot more to jump Chase, who is already my #1 ranked dynasty wide receiver overall.

Welcome Back And Not-So-Welcome Back

  • One highly drafted running back was welcomed back quickly while another found himself in the doghouse. Clyde Edwards-Hellaire was supposed to be on a pitch count on his first game back, but he out-touched Darrel Williams 14 to 8 and, more importantly, got the ball when he was in the game. He touched the ball on 14 of his 31 snaps (44%), while Williams touched the ball on only 8 of his 36 snaps (22%). Much to my surprise, Edwards-Hellaire was a critical part of the game plan, and I assume he will be going forward. Then there's Mile Sanders, who looked like he was about to get a heavy workload until he fumbled and was benched until Jordan Howard got injured late in the third quarter. Howard protected the ball and played better than Sanders. Howard's injury may be the only hope for Sanders managers who desperately want to see Sanders get more touches since Philadelphia changed to a run-first offense. Sanders managers hope Howard's injury lingers so they can finally see Sanders in this offense, but if he fumbles again, which has been a problem for him, they may never get to see his potential in this offense.

Muddy Wildcard Race

  • Often my last observation is more of an NFL observation than a dynasty observation. This week I noticed how the upsets and winning streaks over the last few weeks have really muddied the water in the wildcard race. With seven teams making the NFL playoffs this year, very few teams have been eliminated, and some teams are playing themselves into the conversation. The Dolphins and Colts' three-game winning streak has put them in the race. There are seven teams with 5 or 6 wins in the AFC wildcard race. The Eagles, Football Team, 49ers, and Vikings two-game winning streaks have also put them in the wildcard mix. An eight or nine-win team could make the playoffs in the top heavy NFC. What's true of the NFL has been true in many of my dynasty leagues. There are a few leagues where there is a cream of the crop, but many of my leagues going into this week have a very muddy playoff picture. In one league, there are six teams tied at the top with 6-4 records. In another, there are four 6-4 teams tied for second place, one game behind the 7-3 leader. There are three 8-2 teams in another league, while the next best records are two 5-5 teams and three 4-6 teams. There is one 8-2 team in my biggest money league and four 7-3 teams beneath them. Dynasty standings are muddy, just like the NFL standings, and all you need to do is earn the final wildcard spot to win it all. It's going to be a race to the finish these last three weeks.

Week Eleven Waiver Wire

As a reminder, I play in 27 to 30-man roster leagues, so the players I list here are for deep leagues only. If you play in shallower leagues, there are certainly better players than these to pick up off the waiver wire, but if you're in deep dynasty leagues, these are the players I would make bids on this week. I list them in the order that I would prioritize them.

I don't like the options this week, but here are a few thoughts on a few players available in most of my leagues.

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine

  • It's a rotating door as to which Titans receiver gets the most looks while Julio Jones is on IR. It's been a different one every single week. I said the same thing last week about Marcus Johnson, who was on the waiver wire. This week Johnson got injured, and Westbrook-Ikhine made the most of it. I know we have to make waiver decisions without knowing the health reports on A.J. Brown and Marcus Johnson, but given that they both are hurt, I'd consider adding Westbrook-Ikhine this week. That said, next week will likely be Chester Rogers' turn to be the WR-2 in Tennessee. 

Qadree Ollison

  • Just when we thought Wayne Gallman would get more looks than Mike Davis, Ollison was the surprise player on Thursday night. The Falcons cut Ollison earlier this season. I honestly had no idea they added him back to the team. He was back and carried the ball nine times and had two catches. I have no idea what to make of this backfield, but Ollison could be worth adding to see what happens in super deep leagues. I loved his college tape and held him on several rosters the last few years, hoping for a breakout. I cut him earlier this season when Atlanta cut him, so I guess I'd consider adding him back since they have.

Marquise Goodwin

  • Goodwin was the WR-2 for Chicago on Sunday and was second in wide receiver snaps behind Darnell Mooney. He made the most of his chances with four catches for 104 yards and a touchdown. His increased play-time was mainly based on Allen Robinson missing the game with his injury, so Goodwin may only be helpful to dynasty teams while Robinson is out. Given how bad the Bears are playing and his already contentious relationship with the team, I would not be surprised at all to see Robinson play the injury card as some way to "hold-in" protest. Goodwin could play an interesting role in the offense to end this season if that's the case.

Josiah Deguara

  • Deguara was drafted by the Packers in the third round two years ago, so they are invested in him. He played almost 50% of the snaps on Sunday and had the first touchdown catch of his career. He played more snaps than Mercedes Lewis for the first time since Robert Tonyan was lost for the season with a torn ACL. I'd only want to add Deguara in deep tight-end premium leagues, and I am in two such leagues. I'll try to add him in those leagues this week.

Week Eleven Trades

Trades are hard to grade in a vacuum since scoring systems are different in each league, and every team has a diverse roster construction. That's why I write about trades made in my leagues and give context for why the dynasty owners made the trades. I grade the trade, but in the context of what each team was attempting to accomplish with the trade.

Here are my thoughts on trades that took place in my leagues this week. I hope these trades give you an idea of how other active owners value these players and future picks.

There were just two trades this week, and one was made by me.

 Tee Higgins <=====> DeAndre Hopkins

  • I made this trade for Tee Higgins in a league where I am a contender and the defending champion. Hopkins is one of my all-time favorite dynasty players. I traded Mark Ingram for Hopkins in this league seven years ago during his second season in the NFL. He's kept me a contender every year since. While I love Hopkins, I thought the time was right to buy back years by adding another player in his second NFL season. Higgins has been far less productive than he was in his rookie season, and he's now the WR-2 on the Bengals since Ja'Maar Chase has replaced him as the WR-1. Even so, I believe in his talent and long-term role on an up-and-coming team with a second-year quarterback, Joe Borrow. I have Higgins ranked #12 in my wide receiver ranking, and Hopkins ranked #11. It's hard to trade Hopkins, but since he's 29 years old, I was happy to trade for Higgins, who is 22 years old, with the hope that he will be in my starting lineup for the next seven years like Hopkins was.

 Will Fuller <=====> Logan Thomas

  • This trade was made between two teams at the top of the standings. The manager who traded away Thomas has Mark Andrews as his every-week starter. The first-place team that traded away Fuller is only weak at the tight end position and was starting Tyler Conklin. They found a win-win deal that may help the first-place team immediately if Thomas comes off of IR this week and will help the second-placed team in the future, depending on which team signs Fuller after his one-year Miami contact comes to an end. It's a fair trade given their roster constructions and goals, but I think I slightly favor the Thomas side of things since his future is more sure. Thomas signed a three-year extension this season. In contrast, Fuller's contract expires at the end of the season. His less attractive form and NFL and dynasty standpoint after sitting out the season with injuries. His only hope is to return this season and make a splash. Only then will he get enough interest from NFL teams and dynasty managers.

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