Tue. Jun 15th, 2021

Keeping up with everything that happens in a week of NFL action is hard. That’s why we do it for you. The Fantasy Football Today team watches every game around the league, taking notes of important plays, injuries, playing time changes and more, and I compile those notes in this recap of each game. I’m focusing on injuries you need to know about, key plays you may have missed if you couldn’t watch the game, and a winner and loser for each game. 

Here’s what Week 11 looked like. For more, check out our early look at the Week 12 waiver wire and our breakdown of the fallout from Joe Burrow’s season-ending knee injury

Falcons 9, Saints 24

Taysom Hill wasn’t a great passer, but he was more than good enough in his first NFL start. 

Injuries: Julio Jones (hamstring) — Jones missed long stretches of this game, but was able to play through it at various points. This has been a lingering injury, and it’s the only thing that has slowed Jones down, so we’ll have to watch it closely this week. 

Winner: Taysom Hill — You knew Hill could make plays with his feet, and he ended up with two touchdowns and 51 yards on the ground to lead the Saints on Sunday. What we didn’t know was whether Hill could throw it consistently enough to be a legitimate starter. I still have questions, but he acquitted himself well in a game-plan smartly designed to limit his decisions and create high percentage throws. Hill proved capable of that, at least, which makes it a lot easier to trust the value he’ll add with his legs. Hill is worth adding in all leagues, and should be viewed as a possible starter as long as Drew Brees is out — especially in Week 13 against these same Falcons. You can also call Michael Thomas a big winner here because Hill threw 12 of his 23 passes Thomas’ way, for nine catches and 104 yards. 

Loser: Matt Ryan — Julio Jones has either sat out or played fewer than 50% of the team’s snaps in four games this season. In those four games, including Sunday, Ryan has completed 57.6% of his passes for 6.5 yards per attempt with one touchdown and four interceptions. He doesn’t have a bad matchup in Week 12 against the Raiders, but if Jones is out, I don’t see how you can trust him. 

Another loser: Alvin Kamara — Look, you’re not going to panic, because Kamara is way too good for that. But it’s at least a little bit concerning that Hill’s first start coincided with Kamara’s first NFL game without a catch. You’ll often see athletic quarterbacks throw to their running backs less often, because they’ll scramble where others might dump the ball off. The only reason I wouldn’t be concerned about this yet is because the Saints don’t just use Kamara as a safety valve, so you have to imagine they’ll get him more involved now that Hill has that game under his belt. 

What you might have missed: The one place Hill didn’t look great was with the deep ball. He got lucky on one late first-half throw, as he badly underthrew Emmanuel Sanders; so badly, in fact, that the defender kept running down the field while Sanders turned back and caught it. He had another long pass to Sanders, this one for 57 yards and a touchdown, that was called back due to a penalty. Neither was a particularly impressive throw.

We talk Joe Burrow’s injury, Taysom Hill’s big day, a possible breakout for J.K. Dobbins and a revival of the Cowboys passing game. All that and more on the Fantasy Football Today in 5 podcast. Listen below and subscribe at Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts:

Steelers 27, Jaguars 3

This was exactly as lopsided as expected, and it’s become clear the Jaguars 2021 QB probably isn’t on the roster right now. 

Injuries: JuJu Smith-Schuster (foot/leg) — Smith-Schuster suffered one of the strangest injuries in the NFL this week, as he appeared to injure his ankle or foot … stepping on a penalty flag while coming off the field. The Steelers play Thursday night against the Ravens, so hopefully this isn’t a serious issue — early indications are it isn’t

Winner: Diontae Johnson — Having Johnson on your team has been a frustrating experience, but the breakout we hoped for is unquestionably happening — injuries have just obscured it. Johnson has played at least 75% of the snaps in seven games this season, and is averaging 11.1 targets, 6.8 catches and 77 yards, with four touchdowns. He’s clearly the No. 1 option in this offense, and while he’s no Antonio Brown, he’s earned a spot in your lineup down the stretch. 

Loser: Jake Luton — It was just about the toughest matchup possible, but this performance — 151 yards on 37 attempts, four interceptions — was probably enough to guarantee Gardner Minshew will have his job waiting for him when he returns from a thumb injury. Minshew may not be the future of the QB position for the Jaguars, but Luton definitely isn’t either. It’s hard to be optimistic about anything in this offense, though at least Minshew will throw to James Robinson, something Luton (nine targets in three games) hasn’t done. 

What you might have missed: As good as Johnson’s game was, it could have been even better. In the first half, he made an incredible catch on a tipped pass and rolled into the end zone, but was ruled down at the 1-yard line. Benny Snell came in to finish off the drive. 

Bengals 9, Washington 20

Joe Burrow probably tore his ACL. Everything is terrible, nothing matters.

Injuries: Joe Burrow (knee) — It is believed to be a torn ACL for Burrow, who got hit low and stayed on the ground while being attended to by team doctors. He was carted off the field and tweeted, “See ya next year.” A huge loss for a rookie who was shouldering a massive burden and playing better than anyone had a right to expect given the circumstances. Heath Cummings broke down the injury and what it means for the Bengals’ offense here.

Winner: Antonio Gibson — There’s no surprise here, we know how the Washington offense works. When they are in the lead, Gibson gets used like a lead back, and that’s exactly what happened here. He has at least 13 carries in three of his past four games, and is dominating the rushing and goal-line work, and is primed for a strong close to the season. 

Loser: Tee Higgins — You could substitute any of the Bengals wide receivers here. Ryan Finley completed just three of 10 passes for 30 yards and an interception Sunday, and he topped out at 192 yards and one touchdown in three starts last season. Higgins figures to be the biggest loser because so much of his value depended on Higgins’ downfield role and Burrow’s willingness to take those shots. Finley is going to be bad news for everyone, but it’s especially discouraging for Higgins, who had been a top-12 WR in per-game PPR scoring since Week 3 entering Week 11. 

What you might have missed: J.D. McKissic didn’t have a target through the first four drives of the game and had just two targets in the first half, so this was a clear shift from how Alex Smith had been operating prior. McKissic had been targeted on 41.4% of Smith’s pass attempts through the first half of last weeks’ game; in six quarters since, he’s been targeted on 13.6% of his passes since. That’s more normal, and makes McKissic more of a fringe starter. 

Patriots 20, Texans 27

Cam Newton hit on a few big plays, but their passing game just doesn’t measure up. 

Injuries: Randall Cobb (foot), Kenny Stills (leg) — Both were unable to finish the game. That will mean an even more concentrated target share between Brandin Cooks and Will Fuller moving forward. … Rex Burkhead (leg) — Burkhead was hit low and had to be carted off with what looked like a pretty serious knee injury. 

Winner: Deshaun Watson — Watson has gotten a bit overlooked thanks to the historic play of some of the quarterbacks ahead of him in the leaderboards, but he has played absolutely incredible ball this season, and especially since the Texans fired Bill O’Brien. He had 35.4 Fantasy points Sunday and is averaging 29.5 per game over the last six. One thing that helps is 35 pass attempts per game, compared to 31.5 per game in the first four.

Loser: Duke Johnson — Johnson’s targets bounced back, as he had five after being targeted just once in Week 10. Unfortunately, that’s about all that went right for him, as he caught three of those targets for 20 yards and then added just 15 yards on 10 carries. He’s going to keep getting around 15 opportunities a week with David Johnson sidelined — at least one more week — but that has resulted in just 110 rushing yards and seven catches for 52 yards in three games so far. Increasingly, he looks like just a low-end option. 

What you might have missed: Brandin Cooks had another solid showing Sunday, with four catches for 85 yards, his fifth game with at least 12.5 PPR points in six since O’Brien’s firing. However, it was almost an even bigger game, as he scored a 14-yard touchdown at the end of the second half that was nullified by an ineligible receiver penalty. 

Eagles 17, Browns 22

At some point, the Eagles have to seriously consider benching Carson Wentz. It has reached that point. 

Winner: Dallas Goedert — Very little went right for the Eagles offense, but Goedert finally gave us the game we’ve been waiting for. He’s been playing full-time snaps and running full-time routes since his return from IR in Week 8, and it paid off with a five-catch, 77-yard game with a touchdown Sunday. Zach Ertz‘s return from IR — potentially as soon as Week 12 — is a complicating factor, but he should be a solid starting Fantasy option down the stretch. 

Loser: Carson Wentz — The pick-six Wentz threw in the first half highlights exactly what’s wrong here: 

The pressure on the corner blitz gets there way too quickly, sure, but that’s life as an NFL quarterback. Wentz reacts to that pressure by looking for Miles Sanders for the dump off pass a tick late and is hit as he throws, lobbing it right into the arms of a waiting defender, who has a clear path to the end zone. What’s sad is, that wasn’t even Wentz’s most indefensible play of the game. That’s a two-way tie between the third-quarter safety and an absolutely awful interception inside the 10-yard line as the Eagles were trying to come back late. It’s hard to see how this gets better, because Wentz just looks broken right now. If the Eagles played in a real division, it might be about time to see what Jalen Hurts can give them. 

What you might have missed: It could have been even worse for Wentz, if you’d believe it. He was picked on another play where he threw into double coverage for Travis Fulgham, but that one was overturned on replay, and then the Browns dropped another INT in the fourth quarter. The box score doesn’t adequately paint the picture of what a disaster this was for Wentz. 

Lions 0, Panthers 20

Matthew Stafford was the worst QB in a game where the other side had a guy who started in the XFL this year. 

Winner: D.J. Moore — You want to take it with a grain of salt because it came with a backup quarterback, but Moore was the best player on either offense in this one. He caught seven of 12 targets for a season-high 127, the latter two of which led the team. For as frustrating as Moore’s season has been, he has at least 90 receiving yards in six of 11 games, matching last year’s total for 15 games. Moore is on pace for 66 catches, 1,255 yards, and six touchdowns, believe it or not. The wholesale change in how Moore is being used in the Panthers offense — primarily as a downfield receiver this season, with Robby Anderson dominating looks in the short and intermediate ranges — took pretty much everyone in the Fantasy community by surprise. But, there’s a bit of Stefon Diggs in Moore’s 2020 — remember, Diggs was a short-area, possession-type receiver for a few years with the Vikings until they turned him into their primary deep threat in the play action game in 2019. He showed he could excel in both roles, and now he has emerged as one of the most productive wide receivers in the NFL now that the Bills are using him as a bona fide No. 1 receiver. I think Moore has that kind of potential, but even if that role doesn’t materialize this season, Moore is someone who belongs in your lineup every week. 

Loser: Matthew Stafford — Stafford probably shouldn’t have been playing in this one, honestly. He had trouble pushing the ball down the field with any accuracy, and his thumb injury clearly cost the Lions early in the game when he couldn’t handle a low snap. If the Lions hadn’t already been so beat up, it’s fair to wonder if he even would have played. It wouldn’t have made a difference. 

What you might have missed: P.J. Walker didn’t have a great Fantasy game, but he played better than his line indicated. The problem is, he was intercepted in the end zone twice. You can’t say that’s all bad luck, but it does highlight how close Walker was to a respectable Fantasy showing. I think he can be respectable as long as he’s starting for the Panthers, which may not be any time at all, of course. 

Titans 30, Ravens 24

The Ravens answered some of their questions on offense, but plenty more still remain as they continue to scuffle. 

Injuries: Jonnu Smith (ankle) — Smith left the game briefly in the second half, but was able to return. 

Winner: J.K. Dobbins — The moment we’ve been waiting for finally happened. Dobbins dominated work for the Ravens out of the backfield, getting 15 of 20 carries in their three-way split for 70 yards and a touchdown — he was also the only one of the three to be targeted, catching two passes for 15 yards. He played 61.5% of the snaps overall, so let’s hope the Ravens have finally settled on a No. 1 option. Dobbins would be a must-start back down the stretch if that is the case, but unfortunately, he tested positive for COVID-19 and will be out for at least Week 12, and possibly longer. His ascension will have to wait. 

Loser: Marquise Brown — The value of my property on Marquise Brown Island is just cratering, and it might be time to sell. Brown was targeted just three times Sunday, and he failed to catch any of them. One of them was due to Lamar Jackson just missing him, but Brown got his hands on the other two, including a killer drop on his first target in the second quarter. He just isn’t playing well enough to justify a bigger role, and though there will be boom games eventually, you simply can’t trust Brown right now. 

What you might have missed: Dobbins’ touchdown almost didn’t happen. It came after a Patrick Ricard touchdown was overturned by review, allowing Dobbins to score on the 2-yard plunge. 

Jets 28, Chargers 34

The Jets had a chance late to end the winless drought, but Joe Flacco was incomplete on three straight plays to end the Jets chances. 

Injuries: Lamical Perine (ankle) — Just as he was supposed to get a larger role. Perine did rush for 33 yards on eight carries with a touchdown early, so hopefully this is just a minor tweak and not something that will sideline him multiple games. 

Winner: Justin Herbert — I keep saying Herbert is bound to slow down at some point, if only because he’s been the best rookie QB we’ve arguably ever seen for Fantasy. That slowdown may yet come, but that’s now seven straight games with multiple touchdowns, and the Bills defense he faces next isn’t particularly fearsome, so he could very well make it eight. 

Loser: Jamison Crowder — With just five targets and three catches in two games since returning from his groin injury, you have to wonder if Crowder just isn’t healthy. However, he was coming off a bye and played 56 of 60 offensive snaps, so that may not be the explanation. His huge early-season numbers came largely with Denzel Mims and Breshad Perriman sidelined by injuries, and they combined for 12 of Joe Flacco’s targets Sunday. That may be the bigger concern. 

What you might have missed: This was a pretty disappointing showing for the Chargers DST with just one sack and one turnover while allowing 28 points. But it’s worth noting that the Jets had two short fields thanks to an early blocked punt and fumble, and the Chargers also had a Joe Flacco fumble overturned by review. It could have been better. 

Dolphins 13, Broncos 20

The Dolphins actually benched Tua Tagovailoa in this one, and although Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn’t much better — and coach Brian Flores said Tagovailoa would be back in the starting lineup in Week 12 — this shows they aren’t messing around. 

Winner: DeVante Parker — Parker has been a disappointment in 2020, and while injuries have played a big part, the Dolphins just aren’t throwing the ball as much as they did last season, which is a part of it, too. However, they threw it 38 times in a losing effort Sunday, and Parker had nine targets, six catches, 61 yards and a touchdown. The Dolphins have had some good luck with special teams and defensive scores, and they’ll have to throw more when the luck balances out. That bodes well for Parker moving forward. 

Loser: Tua Tagovailoa — Tagovailoa will be back in for Week 12 against the Jets, but it’s going to be awfully hard to trust him even against such a good matchup. There have been flashes for Tagovailoa, but he has yet to throw for 250 yards in any of his four starts, and the Dolphins have been more conservative with him generally than with Fitzpatrick. He’s just a low-end No. 2 Fantasy QB, especially if the margin for error is slim enough that he is at risk of being benched. 

What you might have missed: Melvin Gordon had 84 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, and it could have been an even better game, but he was stripped literally inches away from the goal line late in the fourth quarter. The Dolphins recovered and that was it for Gordon. 

Cowboys 31, Vikings 28

Andy Dalton‘s return didn’t dramatically change the Cowboys’ offense, but it was an upgrade overall. We’ll take it. 

Winner: Adam Thielen — You live with the bad times — 65 yards on five catches in Weeks 8 and 9 combined — for the four touchdowns in his last two games. That kind of pace is unsustainable, but the point remains: Thielen’s huge target share, red zone role and downfield orientation make him a must-start Fantasy option, even if there will be times he doesn’t come through. The same goes for Justin Jefferson

Loser: Michael Gallup — Gallup remains a boom-or-bust wide receiver who plays nearly every snap for the Cowboys, but that hasn’t been enough since Dak Prescott‘s injury. He has just one game with more than 40 yards in the past five games and can be safely dropped in most leagues. 

What you might have missed: Dalton’s only real mistake in this one was a red zone interception by Eric Kendricks. He just threw behind Dalton Schultz, who had room to run ahead of him. A bad mistake. 

Packers 31, Colts 34

Jonathan Taylor finally had the hot hand and the Colts took advantage of a key mistake to win in overtime. 

Winner: Jonathan Taylor — The Colts game plan at running back has been clear for weeks — everyone gets a shot early until one of their backs gets hot. Nyheim Hines got the first opportunities Sunday but didn’t do much with them, and Taylor started flashing on the Colts third drive. He dominated work from that point on, running for 90 yards on 22 carries and adding four catches for 24 yards. Of course, just as anyone who assumed Jordan Wilkins a few weeks ago or Nyheim Hines last week had taken over as the top back here, this doesn’t necessarily mean Taylor is the No. 1 RB now. But, it’s more likely today than it was Sunday morning. That’s the best you can ask for in this situation. 

Loser: Marquez Valdes-Scantling — It would be easy to overreact to Valdes-Scantling’s high-profile mistakes — especially the fumble in overtime that essentially cost the Packers the game — but that’s not what I’m doing here. Valdes-Scantling will still have his role, and coach Matt LaFleur gave him a pretty resounding vote of confidence after the game. The problem is, he doesn’t have much margin for error with Allen Lazard making his return Sunday. Lazard was worked in slowly, but his role will only increase moving forward, so Valdes-Scantling can’t really afford mistakes. 

What you might have missed: The Colts had two second-half touchdowns nullified by penalties. The first came on a 6-yard touchdown catch by Nyheim Hines that was called back for a hold; the Colts would score on the next play, so no big deal. The next one could have cost them the game — and definitely cost Taylor an even bigger day, as he had a 20-yard touchdown run called back. Tough luck.

Chiefs 35, Raiders 31

The Jets had a chance late to end the winless drought, but Joe Flacco was incomplete on three straight plays to end the Jets chances. 

Winner: Darren Waller — Waller has been a must-start tight end by default for most of the season — he gets so many targets so consistently that you can’t afford to bench him, even if he hadn’t had more than 50 yards in a game since Week 4. Those targets turned into points Sunday, as he caught seven of them for 88 yards and a touchdown. 

Loser: Henry Ruggs — Ruggs is still rostered in 50% of CBS Fantasy leagues, but it’s time to cut bait. He still has a bright future, but he was targeted just once Sunday, catching it for 5 yards. He hasn’t topped 35 yards since Week 5, and has just 15 targets in five games since. Unless you’re in a deep league or have an eye on 2021, he doesn’t belong on your roster. 

What you might have missed: Josh Jacobs scored on the Raiders first drive of the game and looked to be on his way to a big performance, but he was pretty quiet for the rest of the day, finishing with 55 rushing yards and just the one touchdown. He had a few other opportunities, most notably getting stopped at the 3- and 1-yard lines later in the game. Sometimes that’s how it goes. 

Rams 27, Buccaneers 24

Credit to the Buccaneers for managing to keep this one somewhat close, but they were badly outplayed on both sides of the ball. That’s two concerning offensive performances in three games in the Antonio Brown era. 

Winner: Robert Woods — It has been a somewhat disappointing season for Woods, who entered Monday on pace for his lowest target total since 2017, and his lowest per-game pace since 2016. A team-high 15 targets led to a team-high 12 receptions and a season-high 130 yards to go along with a touchdown. Hopefully this is the start of a big close to the season for Woods and for the Rams offense, though there isn’t a must-start Fantasy option — or even a “should-start,” frankly — on this offense outside of Woods and Cooper Kupp. 

Loser: Tom Brady — Brady is supposed to be the one person who would benefit from the Buccaneers plethora of weapons. It might be frustrating trying to rely on Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette, or Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown for your Fantasy team every week, but that collection of talent was supposed to make Brady’s life easier. Instead, we’ve seen one brilliant performance — 341 yards and three touchdowns in Week 10 against the Panthers — and two real duds in three games since Brown made his debut with the team. Both came against tough matchups in the Saints and Rams, but Brady wasn’t supposed to be a matchup-dependent guy with these kinds of weapons. It’s still a small sample size, so I don’t want to draw any sweeping conclusions, but it’s increasingly looking like the addition of Brown was an answer in search of a problem, and Brady’s 13 targets to him Monday amounted to just 57 yard, so it’s hard to argue he’s making much of a positive impact yet. Maybe things will turn around moving forward — the Week 13 bye should help — but right now, you can’t feel confident starting anyone in Tampa’s offense right now. Imagine saying that back in the summer. Imagine saying that three weeks ago.

What you might have missed: Brady was awful Monday, especially on deeper throws, as he went 1 for 9 with two interceptions on passes that traveled 15-plus yards past the line of scrimmage. Brown did get his hands on what could’ve been a 40-plus yard catch in the third quarter, which didn’t help. Brady is 10 for 24 on passes 15-plus yards down the field with three interceptions over the last three weeks. That part of his game should improve at least a little, but he’s completed just 41.8% of those passes with four touchdowns and five interceptions for the season; he was at 50% last season with five touchdowns and two interceptions with significantly worse weapons on the Patriots. It’s been a problem all season. 

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