Dameon Pierce’s slowdown, Isiah Pacheco’s ascent and more Week 11 fantasy observations – The Athletic

The EPA metrics detailed below are per TruMedia. Other advanced metrics outside of KC’s unique metrics are per TruMedia/PFF or Stathead, unless otherwise noted. Fantasy point totals are in full PPR environments. Roster percentages are per ESPN leagues. Unless otherwise noted, statistical rankings are through the end of the Sunday night games.

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Should Greg Dortch be a high priority waiver option this week?

Dortch received extra playing time in the Monday Night Football game after Rondale Moore was injured. He made the most of that opportunity, as Dortch tallied nine catches for 103 yards. It’s the second time this year that Dortch has posted 9+ receptions in a game, which makes him one of only 10 wide receivers to make that claim.

It would be great if Dortch could turn this into longer-term value, but with Marquise Brown slated to return, it’s not likely that this will be a future trend. Roster Dortch as a solid bench candidate and adjust your waiver priority ranks accordingly.

Is Marcus Mariota now a QB1 candidate?

It may not seem like Mariota deserves QB1 consideration, but he is one of only eight quarterbacks to post 17.7 or more points in at least six games. Mariota has done that in five of the past seven games, so this is a recent occurrence for him.

He may be hard pressed to continue that pace, as three of the Falcons last five opponents rank in the top eight in passing points allowed per game since Week 8. To be fair, only roughly two-thirds of Mariota’s fantasy points have been generated on passing plays this year, but that difficulty of matchup is still enough to make him a risky QB1 prospect in these games.

On the plus side, Pittsburgh and Arizona, the Falcons opponents in Weeks 13 and 17, rank 32nd and 21st, respectively, in that category, so Mariota does have upside in those weeks.

Robinson came out of nowhere to tally nine receptions for 128 yards and 21.8 PPR fantasy points against Carolina in Week 11. It might be easy to write this off as a one-time anomaly, but Baltimore’s offense has been looking for the big-play ability that it lost when Marquise Brown went to Arizona. They may get that with Robinson, as his five catches for 99 yards on vertical passes both weigh in as the team season highs in both categories.

The schedule also leans quite heavily in the Ravens passing game’s favor, as Baltimore faces Jacksonville, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh in four of the last six games of the fantasy season. The Jaguars, Browns, and Steelers all rank in the bottom five in the league in passing fantasy points allowed since Week 8, so there is upside here. This should make Robinson one of the highest valued waiver options this week.

Will Josh Allen return to his weekly 28+ point pace?

Allen was the fantasy MVP by a wide margin in Weeks 1-7, as his 28.8 points per game pace was first in the league at any position and 4.5 points ahead of the second-place candidate (Jalen Hurts).

That hasn’t the been the case since then, as a combination of injury and subpar play has led Allen to place 15th in points per game in Weeks 8-11 (18.7), with a No. 11 ranking at quarterback.

The reason for this massive points per game decline is a drop-off in passing, as Allen averaged a league leading 22.9 points per game on pass plays in Weeks 1-7, but has since fallen off to a meager 10.5 points per game pace that ranks 26th among quarterbacks.

This roughly corresponds with the elbow injury that Allen suffered in Week 9, but it also dovetails with some tougher pass coverage matchups. That latter fact could be an issue since the Bills face the Patriots and Jets in Weeks 13 and 14. Those clubs rank first and second, respectively in passing points allowed per game since Week 8 and thus won’t be helpful in turning this trend around.

Add it up and it likely means that Allen won’t be returning to his 28+ point pace for any long stretch this year, but a matchup against Detroit in Week 12 should get him back to the land of 20+ points very soon.

Carolina Panthers

Is Terrace Marshall Jr. a bona fide flex candidate?

Carolina isn’t exactly a go-to place for fantasy managers to look for a spot start wide receiver, but Marshall is working to change their minds about this. Since Week 8 he ranks 29th in wide receiver points per game with an 8.0 average and has tallied a double-digit point in three of those four games.

All of Carolina’s remaining foes during the fantasy season rank 14th or lower in fantasy receiving points allowed per game since Week 8, and all outside of Seattle (the Panthers opponent in Week 14) rank 20th or lower.

This makes Marshall a potential high-floor/low-ceiling candidate for the fantasy stretch run and playoffs, especially in deeper leagues.

How might the Justin Fields injury impact the rest of the Bears fantasy prospects?

The Fields injury situation is unclear as of this writing, as beyond Fields indicating that his left shoulder was hurting a lot, there really isn’t much to go on at this point.

Having noted this, the Bears fantasy prospects in Week 12 are daunting even before the Fields injury, as a road game to face the Jets defense is no walk in the park. New York ranks seventh in overall fantasy points allowed per game since Week 8 and places ninth in receiving points allowed per game and second in passing points allowed per game.

Combine that with any type of Fields ailment and it strongly suggests that fantasy managers should be planning for backup options for all Chicago players this week and then hoping that Fields’ injury news gets better as the days progress.

Is there an upside path for Tyler Boyd when Ja’Marr Chase returns?

There is no doubt that the Cincinnati offense misses Chase’s pass catching talents, but Boyd may miss them more than anyone else on this platoon. Prior to Chase’s injury in Week 7, Boyd ranked 24th in wide receiver points per game with a 13.6 average. Since then, Boyd ranks 50th in wide receiver points per game with a 9.5 average.

The Bengals have not changed how they utilize Boyd, as he is still primarily a slot receiver, but check out how his slot pass production compares before and after the Chase injury.

The reality is that when Chase left the lineup, defenses decided the next most important thing to stop in the Bengals passing game wasn’t Tee Higgins on the outside, but rather Boyd’s slot production. That explains Higgins’ recent point spike as well as Boyd’s drop-off.

Once Chase returns, Boyd’s scoring pace should return to normal, and Higgins could see something of a decline (or at least have some low floor games mixed in with good ones).

Cleveland Browns

Why isn’t Donovan Peoples-Jones rostered in more leagues?

How is it that a wide receiver who ranks 29th in wide receiver points per game since Week 4 is rostered in only 38.1 percent of leagues? Peoples-Jones has also been one of the most consistent receivers in fantasy football, as he joins Stefon Diggs, CeeDee Lamb, Tyreek Hill, Chris Godwin, and Ja’Marr Chase as the only players who have a current streak of at least seven games with 9+ points.

This makes Peoples-Jones a fantastic low floor candidate and someone who should be on as many rosters as possible for the rest of this fantasy season.

Is Tony Pollard a trade high candidate?

The initial reaction to Pollard’s running up three straight games with 21.8+ or more points is to use the hot hand theory and think that this trend is going to continue.

It’s possible that it will but consider this. So far this season only five running backs have posted 21.8+ points in at least three consecutive games: Austin Ekeler, Derrick Henry, Josh Jacobs, Christian McCaffrey, and Pollard. Ekeler is the only player to have extended that streak past the three-game mark, as he posted five straight from Weeks 4-9.

Before marking that off as a one-season anomaly, over the past three seasons only five of the fourteen running backs with three games of that caliber have pushed it to four or five, with Ekeler doing it twice and McCaffrey, Joe Mixon, and David Montgomery doing it once.

That means it is likely that Pollard, who is still splitting carries with Ezekiel Elliott, isn’t apt to keep this pace going for much longer. He’s not the type of player to take a discount on in a trade, but if you can get tier one-caliber value out of a trade (i.e., WR1, RB1, etc.) then it is a trade worth making.

Has Latavius Murray earned every week flex start status?

The Denver backfield doesn’t seem like the most stable place to mine for fantasy points, but Murray has provided a solid return on investment for those in deeper leagues who dared to put him in lineups since Week 7, as he ranks 27th in running backs point per game in that span.

Part of the reason for that is Murray has shown that he is the Broncos lead back from a rush perspective and in a platoon from a pass snaps perspective. For proof, take a look at Denver’s running back snap counts for Week 11.

Player Off snaps Pass snaps Rush snaps Routes Pass block snaps
Latavius Murray 31 14 17 11 3
Melvin Gordon 28 20 8 13 7
Chase Edmonds 3 1 2 1 0

These illustrate that Murray is the go-to rusher in this offense. It’s the caliber of workload that deserves a much higher roster rate than 33.8 percent and is why Murray is a worth strong flex consideration every week.

Detroit Lions

Is it time to drop Jared Goff?

At first glance this looks like an easy question to answer, as Goff just posted his third game with 6.5 or fewer points in the Lions last six contests.

A second glance makes the answer not quite as easy. Detroit faces Buffalo, Jacksonville, and Minnesota over the next three weeks. These teams all rank 24th or worse in passing points allowed per game since Week 8. Goff has posted three games with 18+ points this year, so there is the potential for a high scoring game under the right circumstances.

This means Goff’s drop status really depends on the roster composition. If you need an upside quarterback play due to injury (calling all Justin Fields fantasy managers), Goff may be a good fill-in candidate.

Is it time to trade high on Christian Watson?

There have been 15 instances of wide receivers scoring 21+ fantasy points in consecutive games in the 2022 season. Only two of those receivers (Stefon Diggs and Davante Adams, with Adams streak being current) made it to three straight games of that caliber, so the odds are against Watson racking up another game like that in Week 12, especially since the Eagles have one of the best starting cornerback tandems in the league.

That is the trade high argument for Watson. The keep argument is that the Rams, Dolphins, and Vikings, Green Bay’s opponents in Weeks 15-17, all rate 22nd or worse in fantasy receiving points allowed per game since Week 8, with the Rams and Vikings ranking in the bottom three of the league in that category.

This means a potential trade is really predicated on what you can get in return, but if the offer isn’t worthy of multiple strong starts (as Watson is apt to have), don’t look to deal him.

How concerned should Dameon Pierce’s fantasy managers be about his 3.7-point showing against Washington?

This article series frequently references the downside potential that comes with high workload volumes, especially as it relates to running backs. NFL coaches know that this is a position that can wear a player down more quickly than others, which is why workload management is a factor in many personnel decisions. This goes double for rookies, as they often take a season to figure out how to adjust to the rigors of playing at the pro level.

Those factors could be why Pierce has struggled of late. He had never rushed more than 15 times in a game in his four years at the University of Florida and had only nine games with 10+ carries.

The Texans paid that track record no heed and have made Pierce one of only six backs to tally 10+ carries in 10 games this year. He held up well for a while under this workload, but over the past two weeks Pierce has posted an average of fewer than two yards after contact for the first time this year.

Houston may be recognizing that Pierce is wearing down, as he had his lowest carry volume of the year against Washington in Week 11, but if that trend carries on, it will mean Pierce is going to return RB2 or flex value from here on out rather than the RB1 value his managers became accustomed to.

Is Parris Campbell now a weekly flex candidate?

This is a fairly direct call. Campbell started the year as a non-entity until Week 6, which is when the Colts started asking Matt Ryan to put the ball in the air more often. Campbell responded by posted 41.7 points over the next two weeks, but then Ryan was benched for Matt Ehlinger.

That benching crushed Campbell’s value for the next two weeks, but once Ryan was put back in, it vaulted Campbell to average 16.2 points in Weeks 10-11, a pace that ranks 19th among wide receivers.

With the Colts due to face a terrible Pittsburgh defense in Week 12 (the Steelers rank last in receiving points per game allowed since Week 8), it makes Campbell a must start flex candidate next week. From then on out, he is apt to be a week-to-week call with a lean towards start status in most solid-sized leagues.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Team on a bye this week.

Sort of. Take a gander at the Chiefs Week 11 running back snap counts.

Player Off snaps Pass snaps Rush snaps Routes Pass block snaps
Jerick McKinnon 31 24 7 21 3
Isiah Pacheco 26 11 15 10 1
Clyde Edwards-Helaire 5 3 2 2 1
Michael Burton 2 0 2 0 0

This workload division suggests that Pacheco is the lead back from a rush perspective and will get his share of routes, while Jerick McKinnon is the primary pass catching back who will also get some rushing snaps.

The Chiefs may be going with this type of hybrid platoon setup in order to keep Pacheco at full strength for the rest of this extended season, as Pacheco never posted more than 182 scrimmage plays in a single season during his four years at Rutgers.

That may limit his upside potential, but since Pacheco is coming off his first 10+ point game since Week 1 and is due to face green-rated rush defenses in three of the next six weeks of the fantasy season, he will belong in fantasy lineups most of the time.

Carr’s last three weeks provide an illustration of how fantasy quarterback values have shifted over the course of the season.

In Weeks 9-11, Carr averaged 18.9 points per game, a pace that ranked 13th among quarterbacks in that span.

Apply that same 18.9-point average to Weeks 1-8 and Carr would have ranked seventh in quarterback scoring per game.

This shows that Carr’s current pace may not place him into the QB1 tier, and that might be even more difficult since Deshaun Watson is joining these ranks in Week 13. Carr has been consistent enough of late (three straight games with 17.9+ points) to justify borderline QB1 status, but he’s just not done enough to earn a recurring rank in that tier, especially since bye weeks are soon to end.

Is Josh Palmer a legitimate WR2/flex candidate?

A 30.6-point tally against the Chiefs in Week 11 is a great place to start with Palmer, but it’s also worth noting that he is one of nine wide receivers to post three or more games with 8+ receptions this season.

His lack of consistency is maddening, as Palmer has four games with 7.4 or fewer points this year, but with Mike Williams suffering another ankle injury, Keenan Allen still being far from a sure thing, and Palmer having zero red-rated cornerbacks on his remaining schedule, he will be worthy of a WR2/flex in many weeks.

Los Angeles Rams

Is Allen Robinson’s 14.7-point performance against the Saints a harbinger of improved production?

Robinson is rostered in 76.5 percent of leagues and saw his roster rate move up by 13.4 percent this past week after Cooper Kupp’s Week 10 injury. He made those roster moves beneficial by posting 14.7 points against the Saints, but there are still many potential pitfalls to putting him into fantasy lineups.

Primary among these is the potential for a revolving quarterback situation, as Matthew Stafford has been banged up a lot this year and may have suffered a concussion in the New Orleans matchup. The Rams obliterated offensive line may make relying on Stafford to be under center a low percentage move. Throw in Robinson having red-rated cornerback matchups in Weeks 13-15, and it means he may be a bench candidate more often than not from here on out.

Miami Dolphins

Team on a bye this week.

Minnesota Vikings

Any concerns that the terrible showing against Dallas is a sign of things to come?

The Vikings’ modus operandi this year is to turn games into shootouts (defined as contests where each team scores 24+ points), as Minnesota has a league best 4-0 mark in those types of games.

No team had been able to keep the Vikings below 20 points since the Eagles did so in Week 2, and Minnesota had scored 23+ points in but two games this year before the Cowboys defense stopped the Vikings in their tracks.

That resulted in no Minnesota players scoring 10+ points in Week 11 and only three players tallied more than 4.5 points in that game. This was a big hit to fantasy managers with Vikings players, but those expecting an immediate return to the big play form should note that Minnesota’s next two opponents are New England on Thanksgiving Day and the Jets in Week 13. Those are both home games and thus could be a springboard to better things, but those are also two powerhouse defenses that could successfully mimic the Cowboys game plan.

This won’t cause a change in the must-start statuses of Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook, and T.J. Hockenson will still be a TE1 candidate, but it may be a reason to make secondary plans for those fantasy managers thinking of relying on Adam Thielen or Kirk Cousins.

New England Patriots

How did the Patriots running back snap counts play out now that Damien Harris has returned?

The initial view of this situation is that Rhamondre Stevenson posted 14.2 points and Harris tallied 11.3 points, so their fantasy values were nearly identical, but check out how the Patriots running back snap counts played out in Week 11.

Player Off snaps Pass snaps Rush snaps Routes Pass block snaps
Rhamondre Stevenson 45 27 18 26 1
Damien Harris 15 6 9 5 1

Harris ran the ball on eight of his nine rush snaps and caught a pass on two of his five routes, but Stevenson dominated every snap count category.

It’s likely that Bill Belichick wanted to keep Harris on a low snap count in his first game action since Week 8, but also wanted to get the most out of those snaps, hence heavy scrimmage play volume per snap.

Fantasy managers will take that and since the snap count could even out in upcoming weeks, plan on getting Harris into fantasy lineups as a flex on a regular basis.

New Orleans Saints

Is Alvin Kamara a good candidate to trade low for?

The Saints used to do a very good job of managing Kamara’s workload, but over the past couple of years the club has taken on more of a run-centric approach that has thrown that load management idea out the door.

This shows up in the number of games with 25+ touches that the Saints ask Kamara to shoulder. He has 11 of these in his career – here is how they have been tallied by season.

Games with 25+ scrimmage plays

Kamara had more 25+ scrimmage play games last year than he did in his entire NFL career to that point and with three in nine games in 2022, he is trending towards topping last year’s mark.

That is why Kamara is pace to post a career high 321 scrimmage plays this season, but it’s probably also why he has tallied three straight subpar games after being asked to generate 27 combined rushes/receptions against the Raiders in Week 8.

There is a silver lining in that the Saints have three green-rated rush defense matchups the rest of the season, including two in the semifinal and championship games in Weeks 16 and 17. New Orleans is also on a bye in Week 14, so Kamara should get some much-needed rest at that point. Put it all together and it means Kamara is a very good trade low candidate for those managers who can make it through what might be some subpar games until Week 15.

New York Giants

Are Saquon Barkley’s 5.5 points against Detroit a harbinger of things to come?

A back of Barkley’s caliber isn’t likely to post many games with a point total quite that low, but it’s worth noting that this series pointed out last week that Barkley had never posted 35 carries in a game prior to doing so in Week 10 and that this may cause him to wear down.

The durability woes are only part of the problem for Barkley’s rest of season value, as New York has four red-rated rush defense matchups over the next six weeks. The Giants also lost two offensive linemen to neck injuries against the Lions, and it isn’t yet clear how those injuries might impact their future availability.

Put these elements and it might be a good idea to package Barkley in a trade for a player of similar value without such hurdles, as he might be posting more subpar games down the stretch.

New York Jets

How much should the Week 11 debacle against New England impact fantasy roster rates for Jets players?

The defensive struggle that was the Jets-Patriots game led to no New York player scoring as many as six points in this contest. That didn’t have quite as big of an impact on fantasy football teams as it might have with other teams, as the reality is that Garrett Wilson, James Robinson, and Michael Carter are the only Jets players who most fantasy managers are concerned with.

Regarding if that trio can return to fantasy relevance in the near future, the Jets have four green-rated rush defenses on the remainder of their fantasy schedule, so Robinson and Carter should be fine. Wilson is in a tougher spot, as he has four red-rated cornerbacks on his schedule, so he may be a sit candidate as he has often been this year.

Philadelphia Eagles

Has A.J. Brown dropped to WR2 territory?

As it stands right now, the average points per game total for the No. 12 wide receiver is 16.0 points (by Amari Cooper). In order for a wide receiver to be considered a WR1, he will need to clear that bar more often than not.

This just hasn’t been the case for Brown this season. He has tallied 16 or more points in only four games, although to be fair we could include his 15.9-point total against Houston in Week 9. He has scored more than 10 points in two other games and has been in the single-digit range on three occasions.

That doesn’t equate to WR1-caliber scoring, but what would one expect from a wide receiver in a run-centric offense who shares the workhorse wideout workload with another topflight wideout in DeVonta Smith.

The schedule doesn’t bode well for Brown to hit the WR1 tier very often from here on out, as he has four red-rated cornerbacks on his remaining schedule, so don’t be surprised if he posts WR2 or flex-quality point totals on a regular basis this year.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Is it time to bench Diontae Johnson?

The advent of George Pickens in the Steelers offense has been a hindrance to Johnson’s fantasy value, as since Week 6 Johnson ranks 55th in wide receiver points per game (8.6). Things could improve from here on out, as Johnson has four green-rated cornerbacks on his schedule and the Steelers abysmal pass defense should push Pittsburgh to throw the ball more out of necessity.

This means it’s probably not a good idea to drop Johnson, but he should ride the proverbial pine unless or until those favorable matchups start generating more points.

San Francisco 49ers

Any concerns about Elijah Mitchell’s subpar performance against the Cardinals?

This was a rare pass-centric first half game plan by a Kyle Shanahan 49ers team, as San Francisco ran the ball only 25 percent of the time in that span. Per AP writer Josh Dubow, that is the third lowest rush percentage rate in the first half in Shanahan’s 49ers career. Mitchell made up for it some in the second half, but the 49ers also had some quick scoring drives in the third and fourth quarters, so the chances just weren’t there.

Add it up and it means this was an anomaly, so Mitchell should be fine from here on out as an RB2/flex candidate.

Are Treylon Burks and Robert Woods back to being flex candidates?

Burks and Woods both broke out of slumps against Green Bay, as Burks tallied a double-digit point total for the first time in his career and Woods cleared that bar for the first time since Week 4.

It looked like the Titans should not have been able to pass the ball so effectively against Green Bay, as the Packers had some solid pass coverage metrics coming into that matchup, but Green Bay also had huge rush defense issues that commandeered defensive play calling resources.

This could be a recurring issue for the Titans, as Tennessee has five green-rated rush defenses in its remaining six games. This means that defenses may have to adopt a similar approach to Green Bay in going all out to try to keep Derrick Henry from destroying them, so Burks and Woods have greatly increased chances of being flex candidates despite not having very favorable pass coverage schedules from here on out.

Washington Commanders

Will Logan Thomas be a solid TE1 from now on?

It only takes roughly nine points per game to rate as a TE1 this year and Thomas exceeded that by posting 11.5 points against Houston in Week 11.

It’s tough to consider relying heavily on Thomas given his durability track record, and Washington does have three yellow-rated and two red-rated tight end coverage matchups for the rest of the season. Those factors will make him a risky prospect, but the dearth of starter-caliber options at this position should keep Thomas in or near the TE1 tier in most weeks as long as he is healthy.

(Top photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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