The Patriots came away with the win Sunday against the Eagles, but it's hard to feel good about how they got there if you are relying on them for Fantasy purposes — and that is starting to become a pattern. The Patriots came into the season as one of those teams you wanted a piece of, coming off a season when they finished fourth in the NFL in scoring. And while they entered Week 11 second in the NFL in scoring, they had actually scored on just 36.9% of their offensive drives, 17th in the NFL — the defensive touchdowns had papered over their offensive issues.
But they were at the forefront of Sunday's game against the Eagles, as the Patriots managed just 298 yards of total offense, despite running 71 plays. That makes four straight games with 342 yards of offense or fewer, including four straight with fewer than 80 yards on the ground. That lack of production on the ground has especially been an issue, as the Patriots are splitting carries three ways most weeks.
Sony Michel ran the ball 10 times for a whopping 33 yards Sunday, and he was the bright spot in the running game; Rex Burkhead managed just 14 yards on five carries, while James White added 20 on his five carries. Even adding in work in the passing game, and the Patriots' trio of backs combined for 128 yards, with no touchdowns. The Patriots haven't had a running back rush for more than 74 yards since Week 6, which means this is approaching touchdown-or-bust territory for everyone except White thanks to his passing game role.
Which brings us to the elephant in the room: Tom Brady just hasn't been very good this season, leading to fewer of those touchdown opportunities. Woe unto those who proclaim Tom Brady's career over before he decides it is, but it's worth noting that this may be a new low point for the 20-year veteran. After passing for just 216 yards on 47 attempts Sunday, Brady is now down to 6.8 yards per attempt for the season, his lowest mark since 2006. His touchdown rate is down to 3.5%, the absolute lowest of his career, and a mark that only eight qualified quarterbacks were lower than last season.
This could just be a cold stretch, but there just isn't a lot going right for the Patriots offense these days, especially for Fantasy. And, with a dominant defense, there isn't exactly a ton of pressure to turn things around — a 9-1 record doesn't exactly lead to panic.
But for Fantasy players, maybe there should be. Heading into Week 12 against the Cowboys, you can definitely trust Julian Edelman, who salvaged his day Sunday with a touchdown pass, but who still had 10 PPR points without it and hasn't been below 13 since Week 4. Beyond him and White in PPR, however, I'm not sure there's a single must-start Fantasy option among the rest of the offense, which includes:
- Brady, who has more than 16 Fantasy points in just one of the last four games, and none with more than 22
- Michel, who has no touchdowns in four of his last five games, and hasn't topped 91 rushing yards in any game this season
- There isn't another player on the roster averaging more than 40 receiving yards or 25 rushing yards per game
Maybe Rob Gronkowski — who has an announcement of some sort coming this week — can come out of retirement and kick start the offense. After all, Gronkowski has routinely brought the best out of Brady in the second half of his eventual Hall of Fame career. Or maybe rookie N'Keal Harry, who caught his first career pass, can emerge as a legitimate weapon now that he is healthy. However, between a passing game that has lost a lot of talent and a running game that splits work three ways and hasn't been that effective in more than a month, there's just not a ton to like about this offense right now.
It's not necessarily time to panic yet. Brady has made fools out of anyone who has tried to count him out in the past. But there isn't much to feel confident in for Fantasy right now, and it's been a long time since you could say that.
Winners and Losers
DEN Denver • #30
Age: 26 • Experience: 3 yrs.
We got reports prior to Sunday's game that the Broncos would try to make Lindsay more of a focus in Week 11, and they followed through on this in the 27-23 loss to the Vikings. Lindsay led the team in rush attempts (16, to Royce Freeman's eight), and he added two catches to Freeman's one. The Broncos haven't thrown the ball to their running backs nearly as much with Brandon Allen under center as they did when Joe Flacco was playing quarterback, which made this backfield split a lot less valuable than it had been earlier in the season. If that's the case, a move back to a split that favors Lindsay rather than one that is closer to even is obviously good news — for Lindsay.
D.J. Chark WR
JAC Jacksonville • #17
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
I was a bit wary of trusting Chark in Week 11, simply because we hadn't really seen him with Nick Foles under center. Sure, Chark caught a touchdown from Foles in Week 1, but Foles played so sparingly it was hard to know if that was a fluke or not, especially given all of the reporting out of training camp in Jacksonville that indicated Dede Westbrook was Foles' favorite target. However, the Jags passing game with Foles looked a lot like it did with Gardner Minshew, which meant a lot of Chark, who caught eight of 15 targets for 104 yards and two touchdowns, all of which led the team. Westbrook, on the other hand, was just fourth on the team with six targets, behind Chark, Leonard Fournette, and even Chris Conley. I would still expect better things from Westbrook moving forward, but it's clear Foles' return did not lead to the end of Chark's time as a Fantasy-relevant receiver. That's great news.
ATL Atlanta • #18
Age: 26 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Three straight games without a touchdown, and only 128 combined yards in that span, had Fantasy players antsy about Ridley's prospects. However, given the injuries to Devonta Freeman and Austin Hooper, there were reasons to be optimistic about Ridley heading into Week 11, and he showed why. The Falcons threw the ball a season-low 32 times Sunday, but Ridley still saw eight targets go his way, tied with Julio Jones for the team lead, and he was absolutely dominant with them. Ridley caught each pass for 143 yards and a touchdown, leading the team in each statistical category. Playing without Freeman and Hooper (not to mention Mohamed Sanu, who was traded to the Patriots earlier in the season) means the Falcons are going to have to consolidate their targets, and Jones and Ridley are the obvious beneficiaries. Ridley will be a lineup mainstay for the rest of the season, as he figures to close out his sophomore season strong.
John Brown WR
BUF Buffalo • #15
Age: 30 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Brown has been seeing strong volume all season long and entered Sunday's game on pace for 83 receptions and 1,210 yards, by far the best numbers we've ever seen from him. We talk about touchdown regression a lot, because if you can correctly identify when it is coming, you can identify huge values for Fantasy, and that's exactly what Brown was entering Sunday, as he had just two touchdowns in nine games despite his strong overall production. That regression came for him Sunday, as he doubled his season total, scoring twice on nine catches and 137 yards in the win over the Dolphins. Brown has been seeing the kind of volume that we typically associate with must-start Fantasy options, and that's exactly what you should view him as down the stretch.
Sam Darnold QB
NYJ N.Y. Jets • #14
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
All of a sudden, Darnold is starting to look like that viable streaming option we hoped he would be when the Jets got to the soft part of the schedule. He scored 23.7 Fantasy points in Week 10 against the Giants, and then dropped four touchdowns en route to a 33.4 Fantasy-point day against Washington in Week 11. Sure, it was against two of the worst defenses in the league, but that was always the point: Darnold's schedule was a Fantasy dream. And it doesn't figure to get any tougher for a while, with the Raiders, Bengals, and Dolphins up over the next three weeks. It will be tough to trust him given the way this season has gone, but not impossible.
Brian Hill RB
ATL Atlanta • #23
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
For those of you looking to add Jonathan Williams and slide him into your starting lineups for Week 12, allow Hill to serve as a cautionary tale. Opportunity obviously matters in Fantasy, but it isn't everything, and Hill ended up with just 4.8 Fantasy points Sunday despite getting a ton of opportunity. Things could have been different if a Qadree Ollison touchdown near the goal line had gone to Hill, but Hill isn't the kind of back who should be expected to monopolize touches near the goal line anyway, so it's hardly a huge upset that he missed out on that opportunity. If Devonta Freeman remains out for Week 12 against the Buccaneers, Hill will remain in the discussion for starting Fantasy options, but he will by no means be a must start. Turns out there might have been a reason he couldn't carve out a role before Freeman's injury.
DET Detroit • #19
Age: 27 • Experience: 4 yrs.
We're two games into the Jeff Driskel era of the Lions offense, it doesn't look like it's going to be a good time for Golladay. Golladay put together a decent Fantasy showing in Week 10, but almost all of his production came on one 47-yard touchdown late in the loss to the Bears; he had two catches for 10 yards otherwise. He didn't find the end zone in Week 11, and ended up with just one catch for 34 yards on his five targets as a result. Golladay still has 14 targets over two games, so it's not like Driskel has ignored him, but the two just clearly haven't been on the same page yet. The fact that Driskel is more prone to tuck the ball and run than Matthew Stafford only limits the volume of the passing game, as he ran the ball eight times compared to just 26 attempts Sunday. The toughest part? You might have to trust Golladay in Week 12, as the Lions get a cake matchup against Washington next Sunday. You can't feel good about Golladay's chances of producing with Driskel, but you won't feel great about sitting him against this matchup either. That's a tough spot to be in.
Ronald Jones RB
TB Tampa Bay • #27
• Experience: 3 yrs.
The game flow almost immediately went in the wrong direction for Jones, as the Buccaneers fell behind 20-0 in the first half against the Saints, so it's not surprise he ended up with just four carries — still half of the team's total. What was really disappointing about Sunday, however, was that Jones had just 1 yard on two catches, in a game where Buccaneers threw the ball 51 times. Jones was targeted four times, the same number as Dare Ogunbowale, while it was Peyton Barber who scored on a passing touchdown. Given that coach Bruce Arians told reporters this week Jones' route tree was growing and he could do even more in the passing game, his limited role even in a game where the Buccaneers had to pass the ball comes as a huge disappointment. Just one week after it looked like Jones might finally have taken this job for his own, we're back to the point where it's hard to envision trusting him on a weekly basis.
O.J. Howard TE
TB Tampa Bay • #80
Age: 26 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Speaking of a disappointment, Howard might have been an even bigger one than Jones Sunday. Not only was he held without a catch — and targeted just once — but Howard took a backseat to Cameron Brate, who had been a total non-factor in recent weeks. Brate led the Bucs in targets with 14, and ended up with 73 yards on 10 catches, both of which also led the team. We hoped Week 10 might have been the beginning of Howard's breakout. Now it's time to send Howard back to the waiver wire where he belongs.
NO New Orleans • #28
Age: 31 • Experience: 8 yrs.
If ever there was a game for Murray to take on a feature role, it was one with a game flow like this. That he ended up with just 10 carries to Alvin Kamara's 13 — and 12 touches to Kamara's 23 — is further confirmation that things are back to where they were before Kamara's injury, with Murray limited to the smaller, and less efficient, side of a running back platoon. He'll get enough touches to be in the flex discussion, but any hopes that Murray might have earned a bigger role following his strong play in Kamara's absence have been dashed.
SF San Francisco • #26
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
With Matt Breida sidelined in Week 11, you might have thought Coleman might see a bigger role, but nothing of the sort happened. Coleman carried the ball just 12 times in the 36-26 win over the Cardinals, his fourth straight game with no more than a dozen carries. He did add three catches for 48 yards, but played just 49% of the team's snaps, the same amount as Raheem Mostert. Coleman hasn't played more than 53% of the 49ers snaps since his Week 7, and it seems he is locked into around 15 touches every week. That makes him a solid Fantasy starting option, especially since he gets most of the touches near the goal line, but there seems to be a cap on his upside, no matter who is available.
HOU Houston • #31
Age: 29 • Experience: 6 yrs.
That isn't a typo, Johnson really didn't touch the ball Sunday. He was active, and played nine snaps early in the game, but the Cardinals made no effort to get him involved, while Kenyan Drake played 88% of the snaps and had 16 carries and six catches on seven targets. Before the game, coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters the team would be going with a running back-by-committee" approach Sunday, but that clearly wasn't the case. Kingsbury cited Drake's success the last time these two teams met for why Drake saw so much more work, but it's hard to buy into Johnson having any kind of Fantasy relevant role at this point. Maybe the Week 12 bye will allow Johnson to get back to full health after dealing with back and ankle injuries, but at this point, you can't count on him in your Fantasy lineup down the stretch.
IND Indianapolis • #17
Age: 39 • Experience: 17 yrs.
Rivers was in a familiar spot Monday night, trying to dig the Chargers out of a late hole, but how he got to the spot is becoming increasingly familiar all of a sudden. We're used to Rivers being let down by the kicking game or defense, but for the second time in as many weeks, Rivers dug a hole for himself Monday, tossing four interceptions — the first time in his career he has ever had three or more interceptions in consecutive games. Rivers is up to 14 interceptions already this season, his highest total since 2016, and he has 20 in his last 14 regular season games, dating back to the final three games of the 2018 season. This is still mostly the result of a bad two games in a row, but with a matchup against the Broncos (fourth-fewest Fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks) set for Week 12, it's going to be hard to trust Rivers. Find another option for next week.