Week 11 brought us more news than production, and plenty to sort out as we rapidly approach the Fantasy playoffs. It was a good week for me, as the Titans were on a bye, so I got a one-week reprieve from Derrick Henry's season-long destruction of my entire analytical process.
Let's get into it.
Data is typically courtesy of Pro Football Reference, RotoViz, the RotoGrinders Premium Usage App, airyards.com or PFF. Always feel free to hit me up on Twitter @YardsPerGretch with any questions about anything I covered or to ask my thoughts on something I glossed over. That is some of my favorite feedback, because sometimes it's something I've missed.
Here are some important statistical acronyms to know for Stealing Signals:
Green Zone - Inside the opponent's 10-yard line.
HVT - : for running backs, all receptions and all touches inside the 10 yard line.
TRAP - : for running backs, the percentage of all touches that are not high-value touches.
WOPR - : a metric created by Josh Hermsmeyer, it balances team share of targets and team share of air yards. Because a player's WOPR is a share of his team's overall opportunity, it's important to consider team volume as additional context.
RACR - Receiver Air Conversion Ratio: also created by Hermsmeyer, RACR is calculated as total receiving yards divided by total air yards. Similar to yards per reception or yards per target, but per air yard instead.
Browns 21 - Steelers 7
- Snap notes: Nick Chubb: 72% (-9 vs. Week 10), Kareem Hunt: 55% (equal to Week 10), James Conner: 18% (shoulder injury), JuJu Smith-Schuster: 30% (concussion), Diontae Johnson: 51% (concussion), Trey Edmunds: 47% (+18 vs. previous season high), Jaylen Samuels: 34% (-6 vs. season average)
- Key stat: Odell Beckham — 0.79 WOPR (0.89 over two games since Kareem Hunt's activation)
Through 59 minutes last Thursday night, the Browns and Steelers played a pretty innocuous game. Baker Mayfield started hot, then cooled a bit. James Conner left in the first after aggravating his shoulder injury, then the Steelers' top two wide receivers left with concussions in the second and third.
Then things took a turn for the surreal. The main suspensions and fines have been doled out from Myles Garrett hitting Mason Rudolph in the head with his own helmet, in what will become a defining moment for many parties, including probably the league.
But we're here to look at the Fantasy side of things. The Browns were much the same as Kareem Hunt's Week 10 debut, using a ton of two-back sets and concentrating the downfield targets to Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, who have been winners in the Browns' reimagined offense.
After a season high in air yards in Week 10, Beckham's 122 in Week 11 were the fourth most of his season. He wasn't particularly efficient for the second straight game — finishing with four catches for 60 yards even after an early 42-yard reception — but has now seen 22 targets and 290 air yards over the past two weeks, good for an elite 0.89 Weighted Opportunity Rating (WOPR). He's trending up before a game with Miami, seeing the strongest volume he has all year.
Landry extended his touchdown streak to three straight games, turning in a 7-4-43-1. He's had double-digit PPR points in six of his past seven games, and remains a high-floor option in that format. Hunt was the third heavily-targeted Brown for the second straight week, catching six of eight passes sent his way for 46 yards.
Over the past two weeks, Beckham (22), Landry (17) and Hunt (17) easily lead the team in targets, with Chubb seeing five targets and no other Brown seeing more than two. Following Antonio Callaway's release, Rashard Higgins played the third most snaps among the wide receivers, though his snap share actually fell from Week 10 as the team went with more backs and tight ends. KhaDarel Hodge made a play on a deep ball in Week 11 while rookie tight end Stephen Carlson caught a touchdown, but both played limited roles and all signs point to this offense being highly concentrated.
Chubb racked up 27 rush attempts in the plus script, compiling 92 yards, but appeared to be dealing with a groin issue that bears monitoring. He saw just one target, but because of the two-back sets this isn't the same situation we're used to where an early-down grinder is ceding passing downs to another back. That said, Chubb's routes run as a percentage of dropbacks did dip from 61% in Week 10 to 39% in Week 11, while Hunt's rose from 56% to 70%. Hunt remains a solid PPR option, but don't completely write off Chubb's receiving potential just because of Hunt's target share.
Hammered with injuries to the skill positions throughout the game, and with Mason Rudolph under heavy pressure all night and eventually throwing four interceptions, the Steelers amassed just 236 total yards. Those yards were spread thin throughout the offense as Pittsburgh needed to get deeper and deeper into their depth chart.
Johnny Holton ended up tied for the target lead with seven, along with Vance McDonald, and the speedster Holton easily led the team with 195 air yards but he hauled in just one pass. James Washington led the offense with 49 yards, having caught three of five passes, while Trey Edmunds and Jaylen Samuels led in running back snaps, with Samuels catching the team's lone touchdown as part of a 6-5-19 receiving line. Edmunds played far more snaps, though, and even ran more routes (16 to 12) — it's become clear Samuels isn't viewed as a lead back even if Connor is out.
There's not much to glean from Pittsburgh's offense in a game like this, and we'll have to monitor the injury reports and transactions ahead of Week 12 to try to determine what to expect from the offense going forward.
- Signal: Jaylen Samuels — not a lead back even with Connor out; Browns — committed to the two-back system that gives both backs Fantasy value and concentrates downfield targets to Beckham and Landry
- Noise: Steelers — very little about their usage is actionable given it was largely a next-man-up situation all night
Cowboys 35 - Lions 27
- Snap Notes: Amari Cooper: 55% (over 80% in past seven healthy games), Tony Pollard: 18% (+1 vs. season average), Bo Scarbrough: 49% (debut), Ty Johnson: 29% (+1 vs. season average), J.D. McKissic: 23% (-47 vs. Week 10 season high)
- Key Stat: Bo Scarbrough — zero targets, only nine routes run (TRAP back)
Dak Prescott continues to show off an elite Fantasy ceiling. His 555 air yards in Week 10 were the fourth-most by any quarterback in a game this year. Week 11 wasn't much different, as his 454 air yards were the second most on the week. He sits second in the league for the season in total air yards, behind only Jameis Winston.
Of course, Prescott also adds mobility, so when Dallas isn't this vertical, he can still compile rushing points. He hasn't needed his legs the past couple weeks as he's been on point down the field. In Week 11, he set a season high with 444 passing yards and threw for three scores.
Amari Cooper didn't play a full snap share as he's been a little banged up, but still saw eight targets and 120 air yards. The production just wasn't there in a difficult matchup with Darius Slay. That left Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb as the beneficiaries, and Gallup turned in a 13-9-148 line on 161 air yards that included an impressive juggling catch. Gallup's downfield usage was a focus in this article in the season's early weeks and he's continued to prove he was worth holding through his brief injury.
Cobb also continued his strong run of play, going 7-4-115-1 on 94 air yards. His yardage was elevated a bit by 50 yards after the catch, but he remains a solid third option in a vertical offense that has shown an ability to support three downfield weapons.
Tony Pollard caught all four targets he saw including a 21-yard score where he got free on a crosser and made a man miss. He has looked great all year but his role remains limited — the Cowboys clearly try to get him the ball at a high rate when he's on the field, but he's still not playing big snaps. He remains an elite handcuff with limited appeal unless Ezekiel Elliott misses time.
There's not much to update on Zeke — he continues to play big snaps and run plenty of routes, but his ability to rack up catches is limited by the verticality of the passing game and Pollard's usage. He's still a heavily utilized back in a plus offense with every-week multi-touchdown potential, which he showed in Week 11.
On the Detroit side, Bo Scarbrough got the start and rushed 14 times for 55 yards and a score, converting one of two green zone carries. Scarbrough's a big back who fits nicely as an early-down guy while the other backs handle passing downs. He ran just nine routes while Ty Johnson ran 13 and J.D. McKissic also ran nine. That limits Scarbrough's Fantasy upside as a TRAP back — he wasn't targeted, and will need to have a high touchdown rate to consistently hit double-digit Fantasy points — but he definitely looks like he'll have a role going forward.
Ultimately, Scarbrough's ascension likely makes this backfield a stayaway for Fantasy. McKissic caught three of four targets for 40 yards, but Johnson played more and ran the most routes, and the reality is all of these backs project to have ranges from low floors to only moderate upside, which isn't really worth our time outside of desperate situations.
Jeff Driskel continued to make plays with both his arm and legs as a knock-off Josh Allen. He's mobile and he'll sling it around a bit, but he also isn't great for consistent receiving production. Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola each had five targets, and while Golladay led in air yards, Jones had the big day by catching four of his passes for two scores.
Driskel isn't a quarterback who consistently reads defenses and delivers timely balls, instead often using his mobility to extend plays and throw where someone's open. I noted last week that most of Golladay's production came on one such play, as Driskel threw up a jump ball for a 47-yard score. Golladay made another great downfield play in Week 11, but that 34-yarder was his only catch. There's going to be a lot more of a boom-or-bust nature to the Lions' receivers until Matthew Stafford returns.
- Signal: Bo Scarbrough — new early-down, TRAP back; Jeff Driskel — extends plays, scrambles, throws some YOLO balls, which all lends itself to boom-or-bust profiles for the receivers
- Noise: Amari Cooper — limited snap share, inefficiency on solid targets, air yards (tough matchup, but draws another one with Stephon Gilmore in Week 12)
Jets 34 - Washington 17
- Snap Notes: Le'Veon Bell: 55% (-19 vs. previous season low), Kelvin Harmon: 93% (+36 vs. previous season high), Wendell Smallwood: 46% (+10 vs. previous season high), Derrius Guice: 29% (first game since Week 1), Adrian Peterson: 25% (-24 vs. season average)
- Key Stat: Jamison Crowder — 8 targets, 103 air yards
I wrote a lot of words earlier this season about this stretch of the Jets' schedule and how things had to get better, and Fantasy points would come. While they scored five offensive touchdowns in this one, I won't be taking any victory laps.
The reality is, this offense has been much worse than I anticipated, and even a game like this doesn't mask that. They put together a strong touchdown drive to start the game, but that was really their only impressive drive of the day despite Washington giving them plenty of opportunities. Their second touchdown drive started in good field position at their own 38 and stalled out before a roughing the kicker penalty on a field goal try gave them another shot. It wound up taking 12 plays to total 56 yards for that touchdown.
Their third scoring drive came in the two-minute drill of the first half, and was an efficient three-play touchdown but featured a 45-yard catch-and-run for Ryan Griffin followed by a Griffin touchdown, both of which were plays where Washington essentially didn't cover the tight end. They later pieced together another long scoring drive from strong starting field position, a 10-play drive from their own 40, and then took over at Washington's 5-yard line after a Dwayne Haskins interception to notch their fifth score.
That's not to say there weren't positives in a game where the Jets set a season high with 400 yards of offense, but it just wasn't as impressive as the raw stats indicate. Griffin led the team in total yards, catching all five targets he saw for 109 yards and a score, but that included an unsustainable 66 yards after the catch. He's a fine streamer, but this performance was a plus outcome.
Jamison Crowder led the team in targets with eight and air yards with 103, posting a solid 5-76-1 line against his former team. His air yards were notable as Darnold did push the ball down the field a bit more.
But Darnold didn't have a lot of success with that. Robby Anderson caught a short touchdown but saw just three targets, failing to bring in his other two. He did have 51 air yards on those three looks but just isn't seeing enough downfield opportunities. Demaryius Thomas had a ho-hum day and reserve tight end Daniel Brown had one of the longer receptions of the day, a 20-yard touchdown for Darnold's fourth score.
Le'Veon Bell played his lowest snap share and ran his fewest routes of the season, seeing just two targets but catching both for 33 yards, including a 21-yarder where he lined up in the slot and ran a downfield route. He wound up with 20 touches and a short fourth-quarter touchdown, but the Jets limited him a bit due to his knee issue and he didn't record a touch after that score. Bilal Powell played as the No. 2 earlier in the game, while Ty Montgomery and Josh Adams handled the late touches.
The Jets continue their soft schedule run with Oakland, Cincinnati and Miami up next, and there are several usable pieces in those games, but I'm just not sold on any real upside in this offense, even after their best performance to date.
The reason the Jets got enough chances to put up strong overall numbers despite looking mediocre is the Washington offense was stuck in the mud for most of the day, before two late touchdown drives. Washington finished with 225 total yards, 123 of which came on the two fourth-quarter possessions after the game was well in hand.
Terry McLaurin had a long reception called back early but did hit on a 41-yarder in the fourth to finish with a 4-3-69 line. Fellow rookie Kelvin Harmon got his most playing time of the year, and turned in a 6-5-53 effort, but Dwayne Haskins hasn't shown enough ability to make either trustable options.
Derrius Guice returned from his extended absence but didn't play much, though he showed off his upside in taking a pass behind the line of scrimmage and going 45 yards for a touchdown. With all the talk of the split between Guice and Adrian Peterson, it was actually Wendell Smallwood who led Washington's backfield in snaps, seemingly indicating they still prefer a passing downs back even with Chris Thompson out. Smallwood ran 20 routes while Guice did get 10 in and Peterson had just four.
There's not much running back value overall in this offense, though it's clearly Guice who has the most upside. But given Smallwood's role in negative script and Washington being unlikely to lead much going forward, plus Peterson's presence to steal some early-down work, Guice has his work cut out for him to earn meaningful touches.
- Signal: Washington — still using a passing downs back, limited touch upside for Guice if that continues; Jets — still not much Fantasy upside despite strong offensive numbers
- Noise: Ryan Griffin — 66 yards after the catch
Saints 34 - Buccaneers 17
- Snap Notes: Latavius Murray: 41% (+17 vs. Week 10), Dare Ogunbowale: 43% (+10 vs. season average), Ronald Jones: 31% (-24 vs. season high two weeks ago), Peyton Barber: 18% (-14 vs. season average), Scott Miller: 51% (+26 vs. season average), Cameron Brate: 75% (+8 vs. previous season high), O.J. Howard: 25% (-50 vs. previous season low)
- Key Stat: Buccaneers — 51/8 pass/run ratio
This was a rough game for me as a Ronald Jones and O.J. Howard truther. But one of those guys should be fine.
Let's start with the winning side, as New Orleans is pretty easy to break down. Tampa has a good run defense and is beatable through the air, so the Saints extended the run game via Alvin Kamara in the short passing game, one of their offensive pillars. Kamara wound up with 10 catches on 10 targets, all at short distances for just 47 receiving yards. He rushed 13 times, notching 75 more yards on the ground, and had four green zone touches — two carries and two catches, though he didn't score — for a Week 10 high 12 high-value touches. He also importantly looked healthy.
There's little to say about Michael Thomas most weeks, since he's the most consistent receiver in the league. He had double-digit targets for the sixth straight game and over 100 receiving yards for the fourth straight, and went 11-11-112-1. I'm lying, that line is from two games ago in Week 8. He actually went 11-8-114-1 in Week 11. You never would've been able to tell the difference.
We also got touchdowns from Jared Cook and Ted Ginn, but each had just two catches as Kamara and Thomas dominated the targets. Latavius Murray got five carries in the fourth quarter to finish with 10 on the day, and also caught two balls, but he was pretty clearly in a secondary role even with the script in the Saints' favor. That said, Tampa's defense didn't align well with Murray's strengths, and a home matchup with the Panthers who have given up a league-leading 18 rushing touchdowns next week will make Murray a viable flex option.
The Buccaneers ran the ball just eight times, fewest in franchise history, and Jameis Winston accounted for two of those. That meant just four attempts for Ronald Jones before two late goal-line rushes for Dare Ogunbowale in the hurry-up. This game was the definition of abandoning the run.
So that explains some of what happened to Jones. But the other piece of it is this: Bruce Arians just can't bring himself to sit replacement-level backs Peyton Barber and Dare Ogunbowale. Since Jones began starting three weeks ago and played a season-high 55% snap share, with Arians subsequently declaring Jones had earned a longer look, Jones' snaps have dipped as both Barber and Ogunbowale have worked back in.
Jones is also not getting strong green zone work. Across those three games, Jones has just two green zone rushes, and he's converted both for touchdowns, from 7 and 8 yards out. But he doesn't have a carry inside the 5, while Barber got back-to-back rushes from the 1 in Week 10 and Ogunbowale has three attempts in the past three weeks from the 1 in hurry-up situations, including a late touchdown in Week 9 but also being stuffed twice in a row in Week 11. Barber has two more green zone touches in that span for four total, including a 6-yard touchdown reception in Week 11, and seems to be the preferred short-yardage back for reasons that are unclear to me.
The one positive for Jones is he ran just two fewer routes than Ogunbowale despite playing on far fewer passing downs, and he saw four targets. When the Bucs are competitive in games and playing Jones, they seem to get him out into routes at a high rate, whereas when they are in pass-heavy comeback mode, they'll use Ogunbowale as a pass-blocker a bit more. It would still be preferred if Jones was playing on those snaps, but it seems he has potential to see a decent number of targets in his current receiving role provided the Bucs don't fall multiple scores behind. Jones has some better matchups coming up starting with the suddenly tougher Falcons, and while he should rebound, his lack of full-time usage remains more than a bit confusing.
Meanwhile, O.J. Howard just got flat benched. Howard dropped a pass that led to an interception and took a back seat from then on while Cameron Brate played three times as many snaps and led the team with 14 targets and 10 receptions. I still have very high hopes for Howard in Dynasty formats, but this is a lost season and it seems he'll need to be out from under Arians' thumb before he produces again.
Scott Miller took some snaps and route share from Breshad Perriman in the No. 3 WR spot, and was second on the team in air yards with 96. He's an intriguing option given he hauled in four of six targets for 71 yards, and Perriman has seen plenty of deep opportunity but failed to capitalize most of the season. Miller very nearly scored on a deep catch that was overturned on review, but if he works into a full-time role, he'll have potential to have some boom games late in the year.
Mike Evans (8-4-69 with 119 air yards) and Chris Godwin (6-3-47-1 with 77 air yards) both had disappointing games given Winston threw 51 times, but each had opportunities to do more and there shouldn't be concern guys like Brate and Miller would keep Evans and Godwin from continuing to be the clear top options in the passing game going forward.
- Signal: O.J. Howard — benched for Brate; Scott Miller — earned No. 3 WR snaps over Perriman, could have some value
- Noise: Buccaneers — 51/8 pass/run ratio; Ronald Jones — 5 touches; Mike Evans/Chris Godwin — combined 28% target share (will be much higher most weeks)
Vikings 27 - Broncos 23
- Snap Notes: Vikings: main five players in 12 personnel all at 80% or more (including Irv Smith and Bisi Johnson), Tim Patrick: 73% (first game since Week 1), Phillip Lindsay: 64% (+8 vs. previous season high), Royce Freeman: 30% (-17 vs. previous season low)
- Key Stat: Dalvin Cook — 7 HVT (despite game script limiting him to just 16 touches)
What looked like a trap game for the Vikings throughout the entire first half became an impressive comeback, as the Vikings erased a 20-point halftime lead to avoid an embarrassing home loss before their bye.
Because the Vikings trailed until late, Kirk Cousins threw 35 times, and while he took several first-half sacks and seemed to be content checking down and punting, he came alive in the second half, willing to push the ball down the field. Stefon Diggs was held catchless in the first half, in part thanks to a hold erasing a 34-yard gain, but he caught all five targets he saw in the second half for 121 yards and a score.
Diggs has shown time and again this season that he is an elite talent, and he'll go where Cousins is capable of taking him. We saw both the good and the overly-conservative bad sides of Cousins in Week 11, and that explained the production in the two halves and largely explains Diggs' up-and-down production throughout the year.
The passing game outside Diggs was centered on the two tight ends and Bisi Johnson, as the Vikings largely stayed in their preferred two-TE sets throughout the game. Johnson led the team with nine targets and 110 air yards, but caught just six passes for 35 yards. His role will likely shrink assuming Adam Thielen will be ready after the bye.
The same can be said for the tight ends, who have enjoyed expanded pass-catching roles with Thielen out, highlighted by Kyle Rudolph's 5-5-67-1 this week. Irv Smith also caught a touchdown, but both will be less reliable when Thielen returns.
Dalvin Cook had his second down game in his past three, and yet he once again showed off his high Fantasy floor. His green zone role translated to a 3-yard touchdown run and his pass-catching role meant five receptions; his usage is heavy on high-value touches which helped him breeze to 16.7 PPR points despite game script limiting him to a season-low 11 rushes and just 57 total yards.
Courtland Sutton continues to be the story of the Broncos' season, as they appear to have a superstar in the making. Sutton has had little help from his quarterbacks all year, but he seems to make incredible plays week in and week out. Sutton turned nine targets and a team-high 168 air yards into five catches for 113 yards, throwing for another 38 yards on a deep pass to Tim Patrick as the Broncos pulled out all the stops.
Patrick returned from IR to a full snap share, going 8-4-77 with 115 air yards as the clear No. 2 wide receiver. Noah Fant also saw a season-high 11 targets and is coming on strong of late, as the big route share we've discussed all year has led to more volume. He caught just four of the 11 targets he saw, but posted 60 yards.
Denver had some weird touchdowns in this one, with reserve tight end Troy Fumagalli catching their lone passing score and fullback Andy Janovich rushing their other offensive touchdown in from the 1. After reports that the Broncos wanted to get Phillip Lindsay more involved, the second-year back played a season-high snap share while fellow sophomore Royce Freeman took a back seat, which is of course a reminder you can trust some coaches to be honest with this type of stuff (still looking at you, Bruce Arians).
Lindsay picked up 67 yards on 16 carries, but came off the field after a 5-yard rush from the 6 for Freeman to get a goal-line rush. Freeman was stuffed, and then it went to Janovich, a frustrating sequence for those with Lindsay in their lineups. That green zone rush was Lindsay's first green zone touch in four games after 10 in the season's first six contests, which is odd given Lindsay converted four of those for touchdowns. I'm not sure how much to read into that recent usage in close, but Freeman has six green zone touches in the past four games and does have what most coaches think of as goal-line size.
One final note on the backs — I've been tracking Brandon Allen throwing to the backs less frequently than Joe Flacco, and that continued, with no back seeing more than two targets while the three main downfield options all had eight or more. Lindsay did run nearly double the routes of Freeman, though, which is a divergence from early-season trends.
- Signal: Tim Patrick — big role alongside Sutton, Fant; Phillip Lindsay — more clearly the lead back, but maybe losing green zone work and definitely losing receiving work with Allen under center
- Noise: Kyle Rudolph/Irv Smith/Bisi Johnson — increase in usage has been heavily influenced by Thielen missing time, and Thielen is targeting a return after the Week 12 bye
Ravens 41 - Texans 7
- Snap Notes: Ravens: 10 skill position players above 33% (another blowout, plus they continue to rotate heavily), Keke Coutee: 72% (+2 vs. previous season high), Duke Johnson: 59% (-5 vs. season high), Carlos Hyde: 34% (-2 vs. previous season low)
- Key Stat: Ravens — seven players between 2-4 targets
Baltimore notched yet another blowout, which meant more Robert Griffin late and opportunities for box score notes like Gus Edwards rushing for 100 yards thanks to a 63-yard touchdown with four minutes left.
Lamar Jackson dominated in this one, easily outshining Deshaun Watson in what looked like a potential playoff precursor between two of the league's young stars. Jackson threw for 222 yards and four touchdowns on just 24 attempts, adding 86 yards on the ground on nine carries.
No Raven had more than four targets, while seven players had between two and four. Mark Ingram had a season-high four targets, catching three for a season-high 37 receiving yards and his first two receiving scores of the season. He ran just 13 routes, though, so don't bank on him doing that again anytime soon.
Mark Andrews led the receivers with 75 yards and a score on his four targets and four receptions. Miles Boykin led in air yards with 59 but it was two deep shots and he didn't catch either. And Seth Roberts caught his lone target for the fourth touchdown.
The long and short of it is when there are just 24 passes to go around in a rushing offense, it's hard to bank on much, especially if the offense rotates personnel as much as this one does. Marquise Brown had a down game, but he did see four targets and we have a long enough track record to trust he'll be fine. But you really can't trust anyone in the passing game outside Andrews and Brown.
The Texans got walloped, totaling just 232 yards of offense, with 41 of that coming on a Carlos Hyde touchdown run in the fourth. That was the ultimate garbage time production in that Hyde took a backseat to Duke Johnson throughout most of the game, but the Texans were so far out of it they decided to run again. It was Hyde's only fourth-quarter touch as the team went to Buddy Howell after that, and he had just 24 yards outside that play.
DeAndre Hopkins saw 12 targets and 142 air yards, and the deep attempts were a positive note. Hopkins should have been able to make a play on a deep end zone shot but was turned around by clear pass interference that was both not called and not overturned on review, because of course it wasn't. Hopkins' 1.04 WOPR was second highest on the week, and he now has the second-highest WOPR for the season behind just Michael Thomas, shaking off a slow start to settle in among the elite in terms of receiving opportunity. His efficiency is still lagging, but I expect it to improve when Will Fuller is back.
Of course, Fuller could impact Hopkins' target share, as well. He will definitely impact Kenny Stills, who saw seven targets, and Keke Coutee, who saw a lot more playing time than he has in several weeks. Neither Stills or Coutee produced much, and the tight ends were similarly unproductive in a bad game overall.
- Signal: DeAndre Hopkins — back to consistently elite usage after slow start to season
- Noise: Mark Ingram — four targets, two receiving touchdowns (13 routes run); Carlos Hyde — 41-yard touchdown run late salvaged his whole day
Bills 37 - Dolphins 20
- Snap Notes: Devin Singletary: 74% (+6 vs. previous season high), Frank Gore: 26% (-3 vs. previous season low), Kalen Ballage: 77% (-5 vs. Week 10 season high), Patrick Laird: 23% (+9 vs. Week 10 season high)
- Key Stat: John Brown — 14 targets, 172 air yards (1.06 WOPR, Week 10 leader)
Josh Allen looked great against the Dolphins, and that was great news for John Brown, his top target. While Allen's deep ball has been spotty at times, he hit Brown on a bullet early in the second quarter, finding the soft spot between the corner and the safety in cover two, a read he seemed to make presnap as he audibled from an under center alignment into shotgun. That became a 40-yard touchdown after Brown made the safety miss, and Allen found Brown for another 9-yard score in the fourth as well as for several other downfield looks throughout the game, leading to an impressive 14-9-137-2 receiving day for the Bills' No. 1 receiver.
Brown accounted for more than half of Allen's passing yardage, which meant relatively little production elsewhere. Dawson Knox caught two of three passes and Allen's third touchdown, while Cole Beasley and Isaiah McKenzie each pitched in a few catches. But there's no one else in this passing game that should be trusted.
The touches between the backs looked close, but Devin Singletary not only maintained his clear lead back snap share, he extended it over Frank Gore. Gore had 12 touches but played just 19 snaps, and was ineffective. He did get the team's only RB green zone carry for the second straight week, while Allen had another rushing touchdown from 9 yards out.
That continues a trend where Singletary has a narrow path to green zone touches, while Allen's success down the field meant just one target for the rookie. He also fumbled twice, though the Bills recovered both. Singletary continues to be productive, but his TRAP is so-so, with this week representing a worst-case outcome with 15 low-value touches out of 16 total, and just 8.9 PPR points despite strong per-touch yardage efficiency.
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw 45 times for 323 yards but no touchdowns. DeVante Parker turned 10 targets and 85 air yards into seven catches for 135 yards, while Allen Hurns, Mike Gesicki and Albert Wilson each had six targets and either three or four receptions. Hurns was most productive and continues to play Preston Williams' old role on the outside, meaning the potential for some deep league value.
Patrick Laird caught all six passes he saw, but he ran just 11 routes overall, and Kalen Ballage continued his role as the clear lead back. Ballage was predictably inefficient, rushing for just 9 yards on nine attempts, with a 3-yard score. He also saw six targets on 25 routes, but where Laird turned six targets into 51 yards, Ballage caught five balls for 8 yards. I continue to hope Laird or perhaps Myles Gaskin will get a longer look.
- Signal: Devin Singletary — huge lead role, tough path to green zone touches; John Brown — still the clear top dog in the passing game, no one else really has value
- Noise: Patrick Laird — six catches (just 11 routes run, but maybe Ballage will cede some snaps? Please?)
Colts 33 - Jaguars 13
- Snap Notes: Jonathan Williams: 46% (+36 vs. Week 10 season high), Nyheim Hines: 35% (+6 vs. season average), Marlon Mack: 31% (broken hand), Marcus Johnson: 93% (+13 vs. Week 10 debut), Dede Westbrook: 84% (missed previous game), Josh Oliver: 54% (+9 vs. Week 9 season high)
- Key Stat: D.J. Chark — 15 targets, 218 air yards (both led Week 10)
Nick Foles made his return, and he hit D.J. Chark over the middle for a 34-yard touchdown early, as the youngster turned on the jets to outrun the defense to the end zone. But from there, it was all Colts, and the Jaguars wouldn't score again until there was a minute left.
The Colts dominated on the ground, with Marlon Mack rushing 14 times for 109 yards and a score before exiting with a broken hand, and Jonathan Williams taking over to add 116 yards on 13 rushes of his own. Mack looked poised for a monster day before the unfortunate injury on the first drive of the second half, which came just a couple of plays after Williams had taken a short pass 31 yards on his lone catch of the day.
Williams had been working in as the No. 2 early-down back with Jordan Wilkins inactive due to an ankle issue, and he racked up second-half rush attempts after Mack left. Nyheim Hines also stayed involved and scored on a 7-yard rush, plus Hines saw four of the five running back targets, though he ran just one more route than Williams (11 to 10).
Williams showed enough that he should be a popular waiver pickup, but remember that the Colts' dictate personnel usage heavily by game script, so should they fall behind Thursday night in Houston, we might see more Hines than Williams. Wilkins' status will be worth monitoring as it pertains to Williams' early-down role, as well.
Jacoby Brissett threw just 24 passes, and spread the ball around as he is wont to do. Zach Pascal led with six targets and 102 air yards, but caught just two for 17 yards. Eric Ebron's routes dipped back down after last week's script-induced spike, and he caught all four of the targets he saw for 27 yards. Marcus Johnson led the team with 38 receiving yards, catching each of his four targets as well, including a 1-yard touchdown. None of that should be surprising based on what we discussed last week.
The Jaguars offensive production revolved around Chark, who caught the late touchdown as well to finish 15-8-104-2. There was some concern Chark could keep up his production with a quarterback change, but it's clear that's a nonissue; he tied for the Week 11 lead in targets and no one had more than his 218 air yards.
The passing volume was elevated in a game where Foles threw 47 passes. Each of Chark, Dede Westbrook and Chris Conley ran routes on at least 95% of dropbacks, while Keelan Cole also ran routes on 41% of dropbacks as the team went with plenty of four-wide looks in catch-up mode. But Conley's eight and Westbrook's six targets were more bankable than Cole's five as the next options in the pecking order.
Rookie tight end Josh Oliver saw just two targets despite the huge receiving volume, but his snaps did creep up a bit after the Week 10 bye. We'll need to see some production from him before he's worth considering, but he remains someone to keep an eye on.
Just like the Bucs, the Jaguars recorded the fewest rush attempts in their franchise history, rushing just nine times overall. Leonard Fournette got eight of those, and his big receiving role helped him in PPR leagues as he caught all seven targets he saw. Though he was mostly unproductive, he continues to have a strong floor in all scripts.
- Signal: Jonathan Williams — big plus script snaps with Mack injured and Wilkins out, but Hines stayed involved; Jaguars WRs — D.J. Chark still the clear No. 1, then Conley and Westbrook
- Noise: Jaguars — 47/9 pass/run ratio
Falcons 29 - Panthers 3
- Snap Notes: Brian Hill: 60% (+10 vs. Week 10 season high), Kenjon Barner: 22% (+9 vs. Week 10 season high), Qadree Ollison: 18% (first offensive snaps this season), Jaeden Graham: 52% (+40 vs. previous season high), Russell Gage: 48% (-14 vs. Week 10 season high), Panthers: main four options all over 90%, Jarius Wright: 79% (+1 vs. previous season high)
- Key Stat: Calvin Ridley (124 air yards), Julio Jones (116) — combined 83% of team's air yards
Atlanta continued its recent run of success, going into Carolina and crushing the Panthers. The Falcons got out to an early lead with a punt return touchdown late in the first, and got three first-half interceptions of Kyle Allen to keep the Panthers off the scoreboard and open up a 20-0 lead before the break.
One would think such a script would have been perfect for last week's top waiver pickup Brian Hill, but then one would be wrong. Well, perhaps not wrong, because it was indeed perfect, but it didn't play out that way.
Hill rushed 15 times but totaled just 30 yards, and caught just one of three targets despite running routes on 51% of dropbacks. In the fourth, he had a four-yard run from the 5-yard line and then punched it in from the 1, only to have a hold negate the score. Even with the score, though, he wouldn't have been all that productive, as we're reminded that team context is huge when it comes to plugging in backup running backs and expecting big results. That's why I wrote a piece last weekfrom the offenses that generate the most high-value touches.
Still, there's no question Hill was unlucky, especially because Qadree Ollison got an early rush attempt from the 2 that the rookie converted. Hill could have fairly easily had a two-score day, but it's also worth noting that Ollison — a bigger back than Hill — had two green zone attempts on his four carries.
But Atlanta didn't win this game on the ground — they won it through a combination of continuing their surprising run of strong defensive play and Matt Ryan throwing for 311 yards on 31 attempts. With Austin Hooper out and Mohamed Sanu gone to New England, Ryan leaned heavily on Julio Jones (8-6-91 with 116 air yards) and Calvin Ridley (8-8-143-1 with 124 air yards), who combined for 83% of the team air yards as the main downfield options.
After previously playing a big role as the No. 3 WR, Russell Gage lost some snaps and routes in favor of Justin Hardy but more so due to an increased usage of two-TE sets in the plus script. Luke Stocker and Jaeden Graham split the tight end snaps, but Stocker is more of a blocker and ran just 10 routes despite playing more snaps, while Graham ran 19 and saw two targets. Gage still played well ahead of Hardy, though both saw four targets and neither is a Fantasy option.
Allen played perhaps his worst game as a pro, though a case could be made for his game in San Francisco a few weeks back, which frankly isn't a great sign. Allen did wind up throwing for 325 yards, but it took 50 attempts and he threw four picks and took five sacks.
One of Allen's interceptions was an end zone target for D.J. Moore, and I saw at least one more target in the end zone for Moore, both of which were slants. Moore's lack of touchdowns has been discussed frequently, but those are a good indication that regression is still likely. He tied D.J. Chark's 15 targets for the most in Week 10, catching eight for 95 yards.
Christian McCaffrey had a peak McCaffrey game, where he caught 11 of 14 targets for 121 receiving yards on top of 70 rushing yards on 14 carries, nearing 200 total yards and producing for Fantasy managers despite not scoring.
Curtis Samuel and Greg Olsen were the more disappointing pieces of the Panthers' core, with Samuel going 7-4-25 with 66 air yards and Olsen 5-5-57 with 42. Moore has clearly established himself as the No. 1 passing option, as this was his sixth game out of 10 with double-digit targets. Given the way McCaffrey can dominate production, if Moore is also hogging targets, there simply won't be much for Samuel and Olsen some weeks.
- Signal: Calvin Ridley — plenty of room to break out as one of two clear top options in passing game
- Noise: Brian Hill — overall lack of production (touchdown called back, 2.0 YPC, just one catch despite routes on 51% of dropbacks)
49ers 36 - Cardinals 26
- Snap Notes: Tevin Coleman: 49% (+1 vs. season average), Raheem Mostert: 49% (+25 vs. season average), Jeff Wilson: 1% (-9% vs. season average), Emmanuel Sanders: 47% (rib injury), Ross Dwelley: 90% (-2 vs. Week 10 season high), Kenyan Drake: 88% (+4 vs. season high with Arizona), David Johnson: 13% (-30 vs. Week 10)
- Key Stat: Kenyan Drake — 88% snap share, all 22 RB touches
Arizona hung tough with San Francisco, but the 49ers pulled it out on a late Jeff Wilson touchdown reception on Wilson's only snap of the game.
Jimmy Garoppolo still threw some bad balls, including two that were intercepted, but he completed more than 75% of his passes for 424 yards and four scores against the Cardinals. With George Kittle out and Emmanuel Sanders playing limited snaps due to his rib injury, Deebo Samuel was again Garoppolo's top target, leading the team with 10 targets, eight catches, 134 receiving yards and 106 air yards.
Beyond Samuel, it was actually Kyle Juszczyk who was most involved, posting a 7-7-63 line in his hybrid role. But neither caught touchdowns, as Ross Dwelley did what so many tight ends have done against Arizona and got free for two easy touchdowns. He had a third in between those two called back, and finished 5-4-14-2.
Sanders went for 5-3-33 while playing a limited role, and Kendrick Bourne gave up some snaps from Week 10 but was still very involved, going 6-4-31-1. There was a ton of passing production in the San Francisco offense because of the back-and-forth nature of the game and the tempo Arizona plays at, plus Arizona's subpar defense, so we have to discount things a bit looking forward. Samuel is the clearest winner, and Sanders and Kittle are still key pieces when healthy, and that's probably the three main cogs we should expect to be productive.
Tevin Coleman didn't see an increase in snaps, as Raheem Mostert split time with him 50/50. I noted Wilson played just one snap, and it was largely a two-man backfield all day with Matt Breida out, save for Wilson's late catch and Juszczyk's contributions in the passing game.
Neither back found any room to run, though Coleman did post 48 receiving yards on his three catches thanks to a 37-yard completion on the first play of the second half. Coleman did have one green zone rush from the 3 but was stuffed, and the 49ers mostly threw it in close. I noted last week "there's clearly a cap on his touch upside — remember, his one 20-carry game came in the slopfest at Washington and his four-touchdown game came on just 13 total touches." The 49ers typically run the ball better than they did here, but when they need to throw a bit more, the committee can be limiting for Fantasy.
The running back split for Arizona was an even bigger story, and it was clear from the outset the Cardinals wanted to feature Kenyan Drake. David Johnson played some early snaps, but pretty quickly found the bench, and he didn't record an offensive touch despite Drake not really racking up a ton of yards.
At the midway point of the third quarter, Drake had just 30 total yards on six rushes and five receptions. I'm not trying to disparage Drake's performance — he'd add 50 yards on 10 more carries and a catch over the final quarter and a half to finish with a solid 80 total yards against a tough defense. But it's particularly notable that even as Drake wasn't very productive in a close game, Arizona had no real intention of even mixing in Johnson for a series, instead leaning even heavier toward Drake. It seemed very clear that was their intention, and that they see Johnson as a backup right now.
Kyler Murray continued to provide rushing value on top of his passing, showing off what will certainly be big Fantasy upside in the future. Murray rushed eight times for 67 yards and a score, and also threw for 150 yards and two scores. It was his second-lowest passing yardage total of the season, but was the third straight game where he threw for multiple scores after throwing for none in five of his first eight career starts.
Christian Kirk again led the receiving group with a 9-6-41 line, while Larry Fitzgerald caught a short touchdown to finish with 5-5-37-1. Pharoh Cooper also scored, but he turned in his 4-3-35-1 while running routes on just 35% of dropbacks and isn't a Fantasy option.
In fact, this offense has become highly concentrated as they've gone from heavy four-wide sets early in the year to now relying on a lot of two-TE sets. Kirk and Drake are the main pieces, with Murray's rushing and Fitzgerald typically rounding out the production.
- Signal: Kenyan Drake — clear lead back, strong Fantasy option in this offense; Deebo Samuel — continues to dominate targets with Kittle and Sanders ailing
- Noise: Jeff Wilson — caught a late touchdown, but played just one snap, not involved (was a two-man committee between Coleman and Mostert)
Patriots 17 - Eagles 10
- Snap Share: Mohamed Sanu: 55% (-45% vs. Week 9 season high), Phillip Dorsett: 46% (head injury), N'Keal Harry: 43% (debut), Miles Sanders: 85% (+32 vs. previous season high), Boston Scott: 19% (+6 vs. previous season high), Jordan Matthews: 85% (Eagles debut)
- Key Stat: Patriots — 4.2 yards per play, Eagles — 3.9 yards per play (both are worse than the 32nd-ranked offense in the NFL for the season, the Jets at 4.3)
The Patriots and Eagles played a tough game, but it wasn't a particularly good one, offensively. Tom Brady struggled throughout, and the Patriots also couldn't run on the Eagles' strong front seven, but Philadelphia wasn't able to take advantage against the Patriots' elite defense.
Mohamed Sanu was a surprise. After playing 100% of the snaps in the Patriots' Week 9 game before their bye, Sanu gave up a ton of snaps and ran routes on just 55% of dropbacks, even as Phillip Dorsett left the game early with a head injury and ran routes on just 51% of dropbacks himself. N'Keal Harry worked in for a 41% route share, but Jakobi Meyers also mixed in and the Patriots ran some two-RB sets that seemed to limit Sanu.
Julian Edelman dominated the volume with 10 targets and 144 air yards, catching five passes for 53 yards and also throwing the Patriots' lone offensive touchdown to Dorsett. James White caught four of seven passes for 16 yards, while Sony Michel (4-2-11) and Rex Burkhead (3-2-34) also chipped in some receiving production.
Sanu (4-2-4) found himself lost amid a mass of Patriots who saw four or five targets, including Dorsett (5-3-33-1), Harry (4-3-18) and Ben Watson (4-3-52), and there wasn't anything in the routes to differentiate them, so it seems I was too quick to anoint Sanu a top option in this passing game after last week.
And if that's true — that the Patriots are treating Sanu more like the No. 3 he has been throughout his career — then I can go a step further and start getting wildly optimistic about Harry, right? I mean, you're not going to stop me. This is my article!
Harry was an elite prospect and the Patriots' first-round pick, and has plenty of late-season upside if he can work into a full-time role. I should calm down just a bit, but I do think he should be stashed in most leagues while we watch this play out. This offense will have better passing days ahead and it can't be all Edelman and White.
On the other side, the Eagles were heavily concentrated with their snaps, as each of Zach Ertz, Nelson Agholor, Jordan Matthews, Miles Sanders and Dallas Goedert played at least 80% of the game.
Matthews just rejoined the Eagles, while Jordan Howard's injury forced Sanders into a more prominent role. Boston Scott got some run and handled seven carries, while Jay Ajayi didn't play, and Sanders largely dominated the passing game work.
But that didn't translate to big production for Sanders in the tough matchup, as he gained just 38 yards on his 11 carries and caught two of four targets for 9 yards. Tony Romo highlighted on the broadcast how the Patriots made stopping him in the passing game a priority. It's ultimately positive usage for Sanders, if a bit disappointing given the lack of production and reality he'll likely be sharing more of the backfield with either Howard or Ajayi in the near future.
Ertz (11-9-94) and Agholor (9-4-40) dominated the passing volume, with Agholor letting a desperation fourth-down end zone shot go off his hands on what could have been a game-tying play. Goedert caught Carson Wentz's lone touchdown and went 6-3-36-1, while Matthews caught just one of six targets for 6 yards. He's unlikely to have anywhere near this type of role once Alshon Jeffery returns.
- Signal: Mohamed Sanu — not the every down player I thought, at least not every week; Miles Sanders — huge snap share with Jordan Howard out
- Noise: Patriots/Eagles — lack of efficiency from both offenses overall
Raiders 17 - Bengals 10
- Snap Notes: Josh Jacobs: 64% (+7 vs. season average), Joe Mixon: 59% (-16 vs. Week 10 season high), C.J. Uzomah: 60% (+6 vs. season average), Tyler Eifert: 37% (-6 vs. season average), Alex Erickson: 75% (+26 vs. Week 10)
- Key Stat: Josh Jacobs — 3 green zone rushes, 6 HVT overall
Josh Jacobs led on the ground and Derek Carr was efficient through the air, but the Raiders were perhaps a bit overly conservative as they struggled to put the Bengals away at home. Of course, Ryan Finley didn't look ready for the second straight week, completing just 13 of 31 passes for 115 yards, so there wasn't a ton of pressure.
Jacobs rushed 23 times for 112 yards and caught all three targets he saw for another 12. He ran routes on just 32% of dropbacks, so while his receiving has been ticking up, it's still not a high-upside role. Jalen Richard ran more routes (35%), with DeAndre Washington mixing in (18%).
Jacobs got three green zone rushes, all on separate drives, including two carries from the 2-yard line, but he wasn't able to get in for a score. Those short scores instead went to Foster Moreau on a reception and Carr on a rush, while the Raiders also settled for a late field goal. It's a little frustrating for managers they didn't give him multiple chances on any of those drives, but he did get at least one every time they got down there, and he's converted several of those throughout the year.
Carr stayed underneath most of the day in the passing game, completing an impressive 25 of 29 passes. The trio of backs and Moreau caught all eight passes they saw with a combined 18 air yards. Zay Jones caught three passes with just 10 total air yards, and Darren Waller (7-5-78) and Hunter Renfrow (6-5-66) combined for 70 yards after the catch to hit their yardage totals as their aDOTs (Waller: 6.3, Renfrow: 7.2) were also both very low.
That's been a concern about Carr throughout his career, and it isn't good news for Tyrell Williams in particular. This wasn't the script where they'd need to go downfield to him, but he put up a 4-4-82 line with 62 air yards (15.5 aDOT) that felt like it could have been much bigger had Carr taken a few more shots. A conservative Carr is one that limits Williams' upside as the biggest downfield threat.
Finley's struggles limited the passing production for the Bengals overall, though it's still a little odd to see Tyler Boyd get just three targets. Boyd is in a tough situation where he's a volume-dependent receiver with a quarterback who doesn't appear ready to complete passes at a high clip.
Auden Tate led the Bengals with 56 receiving yards on four catches, but was knocked from the game late and had to be carted off after a scary injury. He's unlikely to play in Week 12.
No other Bengal had more than Tyler Eifert's 21 receiving yards. I noted Eifert's usage spiked before the team's bye, but it seemed like a thinly veiled attempt to raise his trade value just before the deadline. That has not stuck in the two games after the bye, as the team has gone back to C.J. Uzomah playing far more snaps, and neither has Fantasy value in this offense.
Alex Erickson's snaps bounced back and he saw five targets, but caught just one. He would be the presumed No. 2 with Stanley Morgan likely also playing a fair amount alongside Boyd in three-wide sets if Tate is out.
Giovani Bernard was injured in Week 10 and Joe Mixon saw 30 carries and a season-high 75% snap share. I had this to say:
"Joe Mixon got a whopping 30 carries despite the massive negative script, which was a pretty big note. While he only got three high-value touches — two catches and one green zone look — Mixon had previously failed to reach even 20 rushes in a game this season, and had been above 15 just twice.
Cincinnati basically just packed it in — running heavily while trailing a la Washington since Bill Callahan took over — and that's good news for Mixon's value because even low-value touches are better than what he's been getting, and 30 carries is 30 carries. Part of Mixon's role was due to Giovani Bernard's injury, as Mixon easily played a season-high snap share at 75%, so we'll have to check on Bernard's status moving forward. But it's possible the Bengals just let Mixon eat the rest of the way, which would get him back on the Fantasy radar."
None of that really happened with Bernard back in the lineup, as Mixon's snap share dipped back down to its normal levels and he had just 15 carries and split the RB targets down the middle with Bernard, three apiece. Bernard ran 21 routes to Mixon's 12.
Mixon was efficient, putting up 86 yards and a score on the ground, but his role otherwise looked much the same as it has all season.
- Signal: Tyrell Williams — ceiling perhaps capped by Carr's willingness to throw underneath; Joe Mixon — gave back his snap gains with Bernard healthy again
- Noise: Bengals passing game — whether Finley improves or gets benched for Andy Dalton, 115 passing yards won't be the norm
Rams 17 - Bears 7
- Snap Notes: Josh Reynolds: 95% (matched Week 10 season high), Mike Thomas: 36% (+29 vs. previous season high), Tarik Cohen: 59% (+12 vs. season average), David Montgomery: 46% (-11 vs. season average)
- Key Stat: Rams — 18/34 pass/run ratio
We still don't know what led to Robert Woods being scratched late Sunday, other than personal reasons. His absence meant one fewer potential playmaker in a game that already screamed the under, as the Rams were surely going to focus on the ground with major offensive line issues and the Bears' shaky front rather than let Jared Goff get beat up, while the Bears weren't ever going to do much, just because they are the Bears.
I noted as much about the Bears after a close win against Jeff Driskel last week, saying "Combined with what we knew coming in, that tells us quite a bit about where this offense is at right now. There's just not much upside for big production given they can look completely flat and will also play conservatively if they get a lead."
This game fell more on the completely flat side of that depressing offensive range, and the Rams never felt threatened enough to throw, finishing with an 18/34 pass/run ratio. Todd Gurley rushed 25 times for 97 yards and a score, and also caught three balls with a combined negative-10 air yards for 36 more yards. Malcolm Brown added five rushes for 15 yards and a short score.
Goff did throw the ball down the field on a few of his other 15 passes, but of course the context is he had just 15 passes outside those screens and short looks for Gurley. Cooper Kupp caught a 50-yarder that nearly went for a score, but had just three targets on the day, all receptions for 53 yards. Josh Reynolds played a huge role with both Woods and Brandin Cooks out, and led the team with six targets and 66 air yards, catching three balls for 55 yards. And then Mike Thomas was the third wide receiver, catching one of three passes, and Gerald Everett had a 20-yard catch on his lone target. That was the whole downfield passing game.
The Ravens come to town next week and the Rams likely won't be able to get by with this same offensive strategy. They punted on five consecutive drives to open the second half against Chicago, and would've needed to throw more if the Bears could have produced more than one score all game. But I'd still expect them to try to run more and shorten the game in the near future, given their offensive line and receiver issues.
Because the Rams had several quick drives that ended in punts, the Bears built a massive play advantage, running 74 total plays to the Rams' 52. They still managed fewer total yards than the Rams, as Mitchell Trubisky threw for just 190 yards on 43 attempts before leaving with a hip injury late.
With Allen Robinson drawing a lot of Jalen Ramsey, Taylor Gabriel (14-7-57) and Anthony Miller (11-6-54) saw plenty of volume. Both Gabriel and Miller had aDOTs below eight, as did Robinson (6-4-15) and Tarik Cohen (6-5-35-1) — the other highly-targeted Bears — which indicates Trubisky's unwillingness to push the ball down the field. The volume for Gabriel and Miller is not something I'd bank on repeating most weeks, and I'd expect Robinson to lead the team in targets next week against the Giants.
David Montgomery was banged up all week, but played and turned in 31 rushing yards on 14 carries plus one catch on three targets for 19 more yards. Cohen was very involved in the pass-heavy script, running 30 routes to Montgomery's 10. Montgomery draws a good matchup next week, but this offense has been limiting any potential scoring chances and his lack of receiving adds up to a hit-or-miss profile in terms of high-value touches. Three times Montgomery has had six or seven HVT — his three best games, Weeks 2, 8 and 9 — but in each of the other games he's had three or fewer such touches.
- Signal: Rams — shifting toward being a running team
- Noise: Rams — 18 pass attempts (pretty extreme, and was the result of Chicago not putting any pressure on, which Baltimore will next week); Bears WR volume — Robinson drew Ramsey, which meant more work for Gabriel and Miller
Chiefs 24 - Chargers 17
- Snap Notes: Mecole Hardman: 76% (+54 vs. Week 10), Tyreek Hill: 10% (hamstring injury), Darrel Williams: 43% (highest since Week 4), LeSean McCoy: 40% (highest since Week 7), Damien Williams: 18% (rib injury), Austin Ekeler: 58% (highest since Week 7), Melvin Gordon: 52% (-11 vs. past two weeks)
- Key Stat: Austin Ekeler — 8 targets, 6 receptions in the first half (12 targets, 8 receptions for the game)
In a game that seemed heavily influenced by the conditions — the much-discussed high altitude and poor field surface — the Chiefs struggled through early injuries to Tyreek Hill and Damien Williams but still got the victory despite being out-gained 438 to 310.
As we recognized earlier this year, and was perhaps always obvious given their skill sets, Mecole Hardman is essentially the direct backup to Hill, and Hardman played big snaps in his absence. Damien Williams got the start at running back, but after he was also knocked from the game, it was all LeSean McCoy and Darrel Williams.
Travis Kelce easily led the Chiefs with 10 targets and 106 air yards, turning in a 7-92-1 performance. Sammy Watkins was quiet, especially considering Hill's departure, going just 3-2-26. Hardman also had just two catches on four targets, as the Chiefs featured the backs in what was plus script throughout the second half. Some conservative play-calling limited Mahomes a bit, but was likely more due to the conditions and injury to Hill than anything to worry about regarding his weekly ceiling.
Both McCoy and Darrel Williams scored, and they essentially split the work evenly with McCoy getting a few more targets and receptions while Williams handled a few more carries. McCoy fumbled again, but got it back, though it's worth noting as that seemed to be the issue that sparked his initial phasing out of the offense.
For the Chargers, Austin Ekeler had his biggest pass game role since Melvin Gordon became the focal point of the offense, catching eight of 12 targets for 108 yards, which notably began with a 37-yard catch on the first drive. Ekeler had six first-half catches, and wasn't just compiling receptions late given the script, which is positive news for his value going forward that he seemed to be a focal point of the game plan.
Gordon had three catches on five targets of his own, as Philip Rivers is always game to target his backs heavily. Gordon was also efficient on the ground again, but the Chargers abandoned that en route to a 52/19 pass/run ratio.
The downfield target distribution was as you'd expect, with Keenan Allen (12-8-71-1) and Hunter Henry (9-6-69) leading in targets and Mike Williams (5-2-76, including a phenomenal late 50-yard reception) easily leading in air yards with 145.
Given their recent trends, the Chargers aren't likely to throw this much most weeks after their Week 12 bye. The Chiefs also head on a bye and will have a week to get healthy. Hill seems likely to be alright, while we'll have to monitor injury reports on Damien Williams ahead of Week 13 to get an idea of how the backfield might shake out. But Darrel Williams is worth a stash in the interim.
- Signal: Austin Ekeler — still plenty of receiving upside (first half role was especially notable); Darrel Williams — solid waiver option before bye as we await word on Damien Williams
- Noise: Chargers — 52/19 pass/run ratio; Patrick Mahomes — limited by conservative play-calling, probably influenced by conditions and Hill injury
So who should you sit and start this week? And which surprising quarterback could lead you to victory? Visit SportsLine now to get Week 12 rankings for every position, plus see which QB is going to come out of nowhere to crack the top 10, all from the model that out-performed experts big time last season.