So, here’s the thing…
Justin Jefferson, that was unbelievable.
Justin Fields, we highlighted your recent performance for the Chicago Bears in our intro last week, and you one-upped yourself this past weekend with another scintillating performance.
Christian Watson, congrats on catching three touchdowns from Aaron Rodgers and having your “welcome to the NFL moment” for the Green Bay Packers.
There were so many worthy players, plays, teams and games to highlight from Week 10 of the NFL season. But we’re not going to do any of that.
Because even though we are rampaging towards the fantasy playoffs, a different football has quite a bit of our attention this week.
By the time the first NFL game kicks off this weekend, the World Cup will be underway. And before the week concludes with an NFC West, Monday Night Football matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals at the Estadio Azteca – home of the Mexican national (soccer) team, the United States will have begun their World Cup campaign against Wales. (Don’t forget to sign up for the Opta Million here.)
Therefore, we can’t think of a better way to kick off (pun absolutely intended) this week’s analysis with four facts about…you guessed it, kickers!
1) Tyler Bass of the Buffalo Bills has made the most point-after attempts (PAT) this season – 29. He has yet to miss a PAT, one of only four kickers with more than 20 attempts still perfect on the season. That’s not the remarkable statistic. Because last season, Bass was second in the NFL in PATs made with 51. He was one of only four kickers with more than 30 attempts that didn’t miss once. 2020 was his rookie year and Bass was second in the NFL in PATs made. He did miss two that season.
Therefore, entering a game against Jacoby Brissett and the Cleveland Browns that’s been moved to Detroit because of an impending snowstorm in Buffalo, Bass has made 101 consecutive PATs. Hey, that adds up to a lot of fantasy points.
2) How bad has the Denver Broncos offense been (both in fantasy and real life)? Denver’s Corliss Waitman has punted a league-high 54 times through nine games. Last week against the Tennessee Titans, Waitman punted the ball nine times. It wasn’t even his season high, because he had 10 punts against the 49ers back in Week 3. In just those two games, Waitman punted the ball more than Bills punter Sam Martin has all season. Better than that, seven teams punted the ball less than that in the entirety of the 2021 season. In 2020, it was 10 teams.
Waitman is on pace for 102 punts this season. No team has crossed the 100-punt mark since the 49ers in 2016. And only the then-Oakland Raiders have surpassed that 102-punt mark in the last 10 seasons. That was in 2014 when Marquette King punted the ball 109 times.
3) Kickers actually score the most points in the NFL every season. This year, Jason Myers of the Seattle Seahawks has the lead with 83 points. Fittingly, Myers is also the No. 1 kicker in fantasy football with 96 points. He’s scored more points this season by way of kicking than the Broncos (12) and Pittsburgh Steelers (13) have scored by way of touchdowns (ouch).
4) Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t end with the undisputed G.O.A.T. Justin Tucker has made a stunning 91% of his attempted field goals throughout his career. The Baltimore Ravens star, and yes, he is definitely a star, is the only kicker that has made a minimum of 100 field goals with a rate above 90% in NFL history. Tucker has never missed a kick inside of 30 yards, having gone a perfect 88 for 88 to begin his career.
Better than that, he’s also the all-time leader in the percentage of field goals made from 30-39 yards (97.1%) among kickers with more than 50 made field goals in that range. It’s the same story from 40-49 yards, as his success rate of 90.4% is almost five full percentage points higher than the next most accurate kicker. And of course, he also holds the record for the longest field goal made in league history as his 66-yard game-winning kick against the Detroit Lions in Week 3 of 2021 will remain a part of NFL lore forever.
As always, let’s jump around and evaluate some Week 11 projections gathered from some of the top data-driven projections available using several of our AI-powered models. Refer back to our fantasy football rankings for any questionable waiver wire or lineup decisions.
Week 11 Yays
Note: We’re comparing our rankings to the expert consensus rankings (ECR) from Fantasy Pros. These rankings update throughout the week. (We pulled these numbers from Thursday.) Once again, we are using PPR unless noted otherwise.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB (SF) vs. ARI (ECR: 11, Our Rank: 7, Projected Points: 18.71)
Would it surprise you to know that Jimmy G has as many top-10 weekly finishes since Week 5 as his potential counterpart in this game, Kyler Murray? How about if we told you he had more such finishes during that same time frame than Geno Smith, currently QB7?
Both, of course, are true. And as Jimmy G gets more repetitions distributing the ball to Christian McCaffrey and the elite weapons he has all around him, games better than his last few against the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams and Chargers are forthcoming.
Chances are that begins this week against the Arizona Cardinals, a team Garoppolo absolutely owns. In the four times he’s played Arizona since becoming a 49er, Garoppolo has thrown 12 touchdown passes and averaged 331.5 passing yards per game. Well, no team has allowed offenses to score more points than the Cardinals this season. And a big part of that is their inability to limit big plays – no team has allowed more plays of 10 or more yards this season.
Garoppolo is projected for the fourth-most passing yards of any quarterback this week. Only the top six quarterbacks all season long – Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts, Joe Burrow and Justin Fields – are projected to finish ahead of him.
He is firmly in the QB1 discussion.
Dalvin Cook, RB (MIN) vs. DAL (ECR: 10, Our Rank: 3, PP: 19.95)
In the game of the year, the Minnesota Vikings miraculously pulled out a victory over the Bills last Sunday behind Jefferson and that unbelievable catch. But lost in the shuffle was Cook, who had one of his best games of the year against the typically stingy Bills rush defense.
He gets something close to the opposite of that this week. The Dallas Cowboys, despite being one of the NFL’s better defenses overall, have been hemorrhaging yards on the ground. Only three teams allow more than the 143.1 rushing yards per game that opponents average against the Cowboys and an NFL-high 51.3% of rushes against the Cowboys go for at least 4 yards.
It’s the best way to keep Dak Prescott on the sidelines and Cook, who has received at least 17 carries in six games already this season, is in line to take advantage. With fantasy trade deadlines approaching, if you can get Cook for a bag of peanuts, or slightly more than that, pull the trigger. He will pay immediate dividends to your team this week.
Cook is a top-three running back.
Garrett Wilson, WR (NYJ) vs. NE (ECR: 25, Our Rank: 7, PP: 16.83)
Here’s a non-kicker fact: Wilson isn’t just one of the best rookie wide receivers, he’s already one of the better wide receivers in all of football. He’s second in the NFL in combined matchup win percentage (53.62%) among wideouts with at least 100 matchups (versus zone or man defense).
Wilson also has a 58.6 read percentage, which measures how often an eligible receiver is “read” by the quarterback. Essentially, when Wilson is running a route, Zach Wilson is looking his way on almost 60% of pass snaps. Well, if Wilson is winning his matchup more than 50% of the time, it stands to reason that he’ll continue to be productive.
And, oh yeah, when these teams played three weeks ago, Wilson had six receptions for 115 yards. Because New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick prefers to take away the opponents’ best players, it’s a scary matchup. But our data suggests that Wilson, with his skill and involvement in the offense, is basically matchup-proof.
Start him with confidence.
Kalif Raymond, WR (DET) vs. NYG (ECR: 50, Our Rank: 20, PP: 11.78)
The beautifully maddening thing about our model ingesting so much data in creating these projections is that occasionally, the underlying data of a player will be so strong that their projection is significantly ahead of anything they’ve produced so far. This week, that’s the case with Raymond.
He has exactly three receptions in each of his last three games, and four targets are his high watermark during that stretch. That’s not what inspires confidence. Instead, our model sees a player who has defeated man coverage on half of his measured routes and has an average depth of target above league average.
With a pretty significant group of receivers on bye this week, Raymond is a solid and unspectacular option. Our model likes his chances of having four catches instead of three and ultimately returning WR2 value, even without much of the upside of turning it into anything more than that.
He’s one of the potential sleepers this week.
Week 11 Nays
Daniel Jones, QB (NYG) vs. DET (ECR: 9, Our Rank: 14, PP: 15.80)
That’s right, we have the quarterback of the team facing the Lions in our Nay section! It’s surprising to us as much as it is to you. But there are reasons for it.
For starters, the Lions benched cornerback Amari Oruwariye and replaced him with Jerry Jacobs. Now, one personnel switch isn’t enough to change the trajectory of an entire defense, but Oruwariye is last in our year-over-year coverage baselines – literally the worst cover corner in the entire NFL. Jacobs, even with a smaller sample size, is slightly above average and this has had a significantly positive effect on their pass defense.
The second, of course, is that Jones has only surpassed 200 passing yards in two games all season – 217 is his season-high mark – and he has not scored more than two touchdowns in any one game.
It’s a game in which our model is expecting Saquon Barkley to rack up over 20 carries for the New York Giants, especially after they handed him the ball 35 times against the Houston Texans last week. Jones is simply a solid QB2 in the tier with other quarterbacks like Jared Goff, Kirk Cousins, Marcus Mariota, Russell Wilson and Taylor Heinicke, and not a QB1 like his ECR suggests.
Quarterback PSA: Matthew Stafford is our QB22. Matt Ryan, he of Jeff Saturday’s Indianapolis Colts, is our QB23. Ryan Tannehill is our model’s second-worst projected quarterback of the week. If you’re desperate for a quarterback and someone like Davis Mills or Andy Dalton is available, don’t be drawn to the big name.
Kenyan Drake, RB (BAL) vs. CAR (ECR: 26, Our Rank: 38, PP: 7.59)
Drake was awesome in the Ravens’ last game in Week 9, rushing for 93 yards and two touchdowns. In fact, if you needed a big performance out of Drake to hold off fantasy managers with Alvin Kamara, you got it and then some.
His ranking this week is not an indictment of his effectiveness. It’s simply about volume. With Gus Edwards expected back, Drake is unlikely to see anything close to the 26 touches he received back in Week 9. In fact, in the two games that Edwards has played this season, Drake has received a combined 18 carries and only one reception.
And our projections fall right in line with that. He is projected to receive 9.2 touches, making him touchdown-dependent to return Flex value against the Carolina Panthers.
If you have Drake, place him on the bench but celebrate that he helped you win in Week 9.
Courtland Sutton, WR (DEN) vs. LV (ECR: 15, Our Rank: 30, PP: 9.78)
Let’s start with the positives: Sutton scored in the first matchup between these two teams back in Week 4 and even though it’s been a struggle for the Broncos offense (see Waitman, Corliss), Sutton is still on pace for over 1,000 receiving yards.
Now the negatives: That touchdown that Sutton scored back in Week 4? Still the only one he’s scored all year. Those receiving yards? They mostly came in the early portion of the season. Sutton has 116 receiving yards in his last four games combined. Seven wide receivers had more than that just last week alone.
Sutton has likely been sitting on your bench for a few weeks now. Our algorithms have little confidence that he’ll produce enough to be moved into your lineups.
Until things turn around, he’s probably best left on your bench.
Pat Freiermuth, TE (PIT) vs. CIN (ECR: 6, Our Rank: 12, PP: 8.30)
Unlike Sutton, Freiermuth is trending upwards. He’s got at least seven targets in each of his last three games and with Chase Claypool in Chicago, there’s no reason for that not to continue.
However, the Steelers are going through some growing pains with rookie Kenny Pickett leading the offense, hurting Freiermuth’s fantasy prospects. Pickett didn’t manage to throw a single touchdown pass against the Philadelphia Eagles or New Orleans Saints and hasn’t thrown one since before Halloween.
According to the model, there are a whopping 19 tight ends more likely to score a touchdown this week. So even though he has a higher receiving projection than quite a few of those tight ends, without the real chance of a touchdown, Freiermuth’s prospects this week are limited.