One Big Thing – AFC – Week 11

Updated: November 28th 2020

Every week we learn a little bit more about how a team sees each player as a part of their offense allowing fantasy footballers to react (positively or negatively) to those actions. Each week I will look to capture the “One Big Thing” that should have an impact on each team going forward and how you, the savvy fantasy player, can use that to your advantage.

AFC EAST

 New England

Cam Newton finally put together a strong passing performance, going over the 300 marker for the first time since week 2, but he did not bring his rushing stats with him in week 11. To be fair none of the Patriots’ rushers were able to have any success running against what had been a terrible Houston rush defense but rushing was what had kept Newton’s fantasy value afloat. The whole Patriots team has been more inconsistent than most are used to as they seemed to be turning things around after beating Baltimore but then lost to two-win Houston. Rex Burkhead is likely lost for the season and Sony Michel will return to lineup in week 12. What his role would be is anyone’s guess as Damien Harris has primarily acted as the “thumper” running back. Hard to start any Patriots’ player with confidence right now.

 NY Jets

I thought the Jets might be able to turn things around with how they looked on Monday night before their bye. They even started week 11 with a blocked punt and an immediate touchdown but unfortunately, after the first half against the Chargers, it was clear they were the same old Jets still. L’Michal Perine went down with an injury that should side him for a couple of games so the ever-present Frank Gore could become a bell-cow running back for the final six games of the season. Gore easily had his best game of the season with 15 carries 61 yards and his first touchdown of the season.

 Miami

It was confusing to everyone that Brian Flores decided to bench Tua Tagovailoa in the second half to go back to a quarterback they had seemingly moved on from in Ryan Fitzpatrick to try and pull out a win. The Dolphins’ offense was struggling to move the ball consistently but he did not have any turnovers so it is a little unjustified to pull him at his first sign of adversity in only his fourth game as a starter. His injury during practice this week muddies an already murky situation for a team that still has a chance at their division and is in the wildcard hunt as well. Luckily, they play a Jets team that could give the rookie a confidence boost, if he plays.

AFC NORTH

 Cincinnati

This was a heartbreaking injury to Joe Burrow and the whole football community hopes that the first overall selection can return to full strength at some point next season. It has been speculated that due to the severity and the expected length of recovery time that not only his rookie season is over but potential what would have been most of Burrow’s sophomore season could be in jeopardy too. In the meantime, the Bengals will look to guys like Brandon Allen and Ryan Findley to keep the team going for the final weeks but there is not much to expect from either in terms of fantasy. It will be interesting to see what the downgrade at quarterback will do to guys like Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins in terms of their fantasy production. Once Burrow left the game the offense only produced 17 yards on five (5) drives.

 Pittsburgh

When healthy and on the field, it is now undeniable that Diontae Johnson is the WR1 in Pittsburgh. In the games that he has played start to finish (7) Johnson has seen at least ten (10) targets in all but one game. Johnson had twice as many targets (16) as the next receiver on the team, eight (8) for Chase Claypool, and caught triple the number of passes. The Steelers cannot seem to get their running game going so there will continue to be plenty of passing opportunities each game. If Ben Roethlisberger sticks around for another year I want to have any piece of this passing offense that becomes available in the offseason.

 Cleveland

Another bad weather game in Cleveland meant another heavy ground performance for Nick Chubb. The third-year back averaged 5.7 yards per carry and went over 100 yards rushing for his second consecutive game. It was concerning though that the coaching staff kept bringing in Kareem Hunt on goal-to-go carries with how successful Chubb had been on the ground. They could say it was to keep the defense from crowding the line for an expected run but Chubb is no slouch as a receiver so the threat of him catching a pass is still a real threat. The staff may just have been trying to be cute with their play calling and against an inferior Eagles team it probably would not have mattered anyway. But if they are going to get past teams like Pittsburgh and Kansas City, they are going to need to give their best offensive weapon as many opportunities as he can get, and their best weapon is Nick Chubb.

 Baltimore

As I said in this week’s NFC One Big Thing it seemed unfair to fantasy fans to show them what D’Andre Swift could do when given the workload only to have him have to sit out the next couple of games and likewise it will be unfortunate if J.K. Dobbins has to miss any games for the Ravens. They finally gave him a real workload playing on 64 percent of the snaps and had 17 of the 22 backfield touches and he rewarded them with 85 total yards and a touchdown. The Ravens situation with COVID cases seeming to go up daily so who knows when their next game will be and if Dobbins will be allowed to play when they take the field next. We can only hope that the staff keeps giving him the ball so we can talk about him as a buy in the offseason.

AFC SOUTH

 Jacksonville

It was a great story that Jake Luton almost beat the Packers two weeks ago but against a much better Steelers defense we knew there was not going to be a lot to expect in terms of production. Luton completed less than half his pass attempts and threw four (4) interceptions while the offense only managed to put up three (3) points. Doug Marrone made the switch this week to journeyman Mike Glennon to take over while Gardner Minshew still recovers from his hand injury. Glennon will be without two of the Jaguars’ top targets however as both D.J. Chark and Chris Conley have already been ruled out. The Jags probably do not win another game this season but unless the Jets pull off an upset between now and New Years’ the best they can hope for is the second quarterback taken off the board in 2021.

 Houston

The Texans may be done when it comes to the playoffs in 2020 but DeShaun Watson is still a baller who will play till the final whistle. Watson passed for almost 350 yards and two (2) touchdowns while also making some key plays with his legs and having another touchdown on the ground. I talk a lot about receivers that could be on the move this offseason and I think if the Texans could land one they could become a team just like the LA Rams under the right coaching staff. A receiver like Allen Robinson, Josh Reynolds, or Corey Davis I think it would be a perfect fit with the receivers they already have and the skillset that Watson brings to the table. While the defense needs a lot of work to shore up everything that is not J.J. Watt, the offense seems too good to be less than a seven-win team in any given season.

 Tennessee

Losers in three (3) of their last four (4) games, the Titans needed a win against a quality opponent to have at least one tiebreaker down the stretch. It started as a slow day for Derrick Henry but Mike Vrabel kept feeding him the ball and eventually Henry wore down the defense to score the game-winning touchdown in overtime on a nice cutback run. Henry’s 29 touches were the second-most he has had this season and the Titans needed every last one of them. Corey Davis also went over the century mark for the third time this season as he continues to play for a second contract. As I mentioned in the Houston section, it would be great to see him and DeShaun Watson together but if he was to re-sign in Tennessee we have already seen his growth this season so why not keep a good thing going. He will be an interesting player to watch in RSO auctions this year.

 Indianapolis

Philip Rivers did a great job of spreading the ball around and bringing the Colts back after a two-touchdown deficit at halftime. I would like the see Michael Pittman Jr. become more of the featured receiver however, as the last two weeks he has shown tremendous growth in his production and has had back-to-back games with a touchdown. What the Colts do this offseason at the quarterback position will have a major impact on the value of Pittman heading into the 2021 season and the chances of him being a potential breakout receiver. DLF trade analyzer has him rate as being about the same value as a mid-second round pick or a straight swap for guys like Brandin Cooks, Evan Engram, or Kenyan Drake. I would take Pittman over all four of those right now.

AFC WEST

 LA Chargers

16 receptions, 145 yards and a touchdown. Keenan Allen is a stud. Justin Herbert knows who his best weapon is on the field and gets the ball in his hands every chance he gets. Allen now has 11 more targets than the next receiver as of week 11 and could be on his way to finishing the season as the WR1. Speaking of Justin Herbert, the rookie had his fifth career game of 300+ passing yards, and also his fifth game with 3+ passing touchdowns. The Chargers may have been okay with whichever of the two quarterbacks fell to them at their sixth pick this year but I bet they would have moved up to get Herbert if they knew what they were getting. He is a lock for rookie of the year with Joe Burrow’s season officially over now.

 Denver

Tim Patrick is a restricted free agent after this season and I wonder what the Broncos’ strategy is with him after having his third 100-yard receiving game. Their number one option, Courtland Sutton, is set to return next year and the team invested two high draft picks in receivers Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler in this past draft. While they could give him a small tag to see if another team is interested in Patrick first, but he was an undrafted free agent so they would receive nothing if they gave him a “same round tender”. Patrick is yet another receiver to watch this offseason to see if he moves on to another receiver-friendly offense.

 Kansas City

Patrick Mahomes has reached the same stratosphere that Bill Belichick was in for twenty years where every year they should be receiving the “Most Valuable” Award for what they do but because they do it with such nonchalant greatness that it seems they are sometimes overlooked for the flashy narrative of each year’s new underdog. In one of my Superflex leagues, I offered the Mahomes owner Ezekiel Elliot, Julio Jones, and Matt Ryan at the deadline but he denied and I cannot blame him. I was not playing dynasty during the mid-2000s Peyton Manning era but I imagine it must have felt the same as it does for Mahomes fantasy owners right now. A set it and forget it position for a decade and a half.

 Las Vegas

That Sunday night game was probably one of the best “wins” for a team that lost the game I have seen in all my years of watching football. The Raiders, and more specifically Derek Carr, went toe-to-toe with the juggernaut Chiefs and nearly came away with the season sweep if not for some “Mahomes magic” at the end. Carr is an underrated quarterback, both in real life and in fantasy, and while he may be just a QB2 he provides a lot more stability week-to-week than guys around him like Carson Wentz, Kirk Cousins, or Daniel Jones. If the team can develop rookie Bryan Edwards and Henry Ruggs heading into their second season and Darren Waller continues his dominance as dynasty’s TE3 right now, this Raiders team will look fairly similar to their mid-western division rivals heading into next season.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews