Ian Hartitz’s Week 11 fantasy football fallouts: Nullified touchdowns, missed big plays and more

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens (14) completes a catch as Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt (29) defends n the first quarter during a Week 11 NFL game, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022, at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pa. Nfl Cincinnati Bengals At Pittsburgh Steelers Nov 20 0033

  • Steelers WR George Pickens had the biggest drop of the week on what should have been a 49-yard score.
  • Commanders RB Antonio Gibson did that annoying thing where a player slides down short of the end zone to appease their real-life team’s desire to win football games instead of their fantasy football managers.
  • Browns QB Jacoby Brissett should have had an even bigger day at the office if his tight ends could have done a better job catching the football.
Estimated reading time: 12 minutes

Week 11 has come and gone. Fourteen NFL games brought joy, laughs and tears; today we’ll focus on the latter sadness and break down just how close some came to achieving fantasy football glory.

What follows is a breakdown on all the “Sheesh” moments from Week 11. I’ve watched every game and used PFF’s backend tools to help determine instances when:

  • Pass-catchers did receive an accurate pass that should have resulted in a score or big gain, but the ball was dropped
  • Pass-catchers could have scored or picked up big yardage with a more accurate pass
  • Players scored or picked up big yardage, but the play was nullified by penalty
  • Ball carriers managed to get all the way to the one-yard line, but didn’t score
  • Other random shit happened that tilted fantasy football managers of all shapes and sizes

But first: The single sheeshiest play of Week 11 goes to …

Steelers WR George Pickens

Pickens managed to catch four of his six targets for 83 yards and touchdown against the Bengals in Week 11. However, one of those incomplete targets could have helped make the performance far bigger: Pickens flat-out dropped a (surprisingly) perfect throw down the sideline from Kenny Pickett that would have been a walk-in 49-yard touchdown. 

The drop drove the knife particularly deep into the guts of those sweating out the final minutes of the main DFS slate. Sheesh.

Dropped touchdowns

There were six total plays that featured an official PFF drop on what would have otherwise been a touchdown:

  1. Steelers WR George Pickens’ aforementioned 49-yard miss.
  2. Browns TE Harrison Bryant let a seed down the middle bounce off his hands, missing out on the potential 14-yard touchdown.
  3. Browns TE Pharaoh Brown dropped ANOTHER potential 14-yard touchdown from Jacoby Brissett on the very next play.
  4. Vikings TE T.J. Hockenson dropped a perfect throw from Kirk Cousins in the back of the end zone that should have produced six points from six yards out.
  5. Bills WR Stefon Diggs could have had a second touchdown if he had held on to a potential 10-yard score in the back of the end zone that resulted in him crashing into the cameraman. Good on Diggs for making sure the dude was OK and helping him up afterward.
  6. Cardinals TE Stephen Anderson got a step of separation deep from 23 yards out. Even better: Colt McCoy threw a dime of a pass into his outstretched arms in the end zone. The problem: Anderson watched the ball soar through the rainy Mexico City sky and fall straight through his hands incomplete.

Additionally, Cowboys TE Dalton Schultz seemingly chose to only use one hand when attempting to corral an 11-yard touchdown. Not an official drop, but still worthy of a sheesh when the great Dez Bryant calls out the mishap.

Pass-catchers who could have scored with a more accurate pass

The following players should have had a much bigger day at the office, but unfortunately their respective quarterbacks weren’t quite up to the task for at least a moment. The following handful of players had to deal with some subjectively shitty near misses:

Bears QB Justin Fields certainly had more than a few flashes in Week 11 and continues to provide all sorts of rushing goodness for his faithful fantasy managers; just realize he probably should have had an extra two passing touchdowns against the Falcons:

  1. WR Darnell Mooney got all kinds of open deep downfield after his coverage defender fell down. The problem: Fields took a rare L and sailed the pass long. This should have been a 67-yard touchdown. Some Bears fans have argued that Mooney slowed down; either way, it goes down in the books as a sheesh.
  2. WR Chase Claypool broke open in the end zone after Fields managed to extend the play. Bad news: The throw sailed high and out of bounds. Good news: There was a defensive holding penalty called and David Montgomery scored on the next play.

The Broncos have been catching a lot of flack for seemingly focusing more on Keelan Cole than, you know, Davante Adams on what wound up being the game’s final play; just realize Cole did in fact get behind the secondary early in the fourth quarter and could have scored a 56-yard touchdown with a better pass. Luckily for the Raiders, they picked up the first down anyway after Adams drew a hold.

So close, yet so far away

Two plays were rather sheeshy in terms of everybody on the offense doing their jobs well enough to seemingly score a touchdown, yet here we are discussing why that didn’t happen.

Commanders RB Antonio Gibson had a solid day at the office on his way to racking up 103 total yards against the Texans. The reason why we’re talking about Gibson now: He had a chance to put an exclamation point on the performance with a 14-yard touchdown run with just two minutes left in the fourth quarter … only to slide down short of the end zone in an effort to pick up the first down and fully ice the game. Ironically, Gibson’s slide actually resulted in him being short of the first down. Give the man credit for picking up the necessary yardage two plays later and securing the win; just realize fantasy managers would have been a lot more thrilled if he had simply done his best to score the touchdown in the first place.

Another near touchdown that wasn’t exactly hindered by a physical act of an offensive player came when Vikings QB Kirk Cousins lofted a deep ball to Justin Jefferson for what had the potential to be a 28-yard touchdown. The pass wound up sailing long and fell incomplete; just realize further review sure made it seem like CB Trevon Diggs had a handful of Jefferson’s jersey, so the Vikings had to deal with barely missing out on the potential score AND the non-call.

Poor Jacoby

Browns QB Jacoby Brissett already had a big day on the box score with 324 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions; just realize he played even better when evaluating some of the missed opportunities throughout the game. There were six instances in which Brissett certainly delivered a good enough pass for his receiver to make a valuable catch, yet here we are:

  1. TE David Njoku (25 yards) had to twist before bobbling a potential chunk gain that wasn’t officially a drop, but it sure would have been a lot cooler if he made the catch. 
  2. WR Amari Cooper obviously did more good than bad in Week 11; just realize he only managed to get one foot down inbounds on what would have otherwise been an impressive 30-yard gain.
  3. Cooper also just barely stepped out of bounds before catching a two-point conversion, nullifying the score.
  4. TE Harrison Bryant let a seed down the middle bounce off his hands, missing out on the potential 14-yard touchdown.
  5. TE Pharaoh Brown dropped ANOTHER potential 14-yard touchdown on the very next play.
  6. Bryant later came down with what should have been a 16-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone, but he only managed to get one foot down inbounds.

Unrealized air yards are a helluva drug

PFF’s Josh Hermsmeyer breaks down the week’s top buy-low candidates with his handy-dandy air yards model; don’t be surprised if certain pass-catchers from the Packers are featured ahead of Week 12. The following five players had at least 50 unrealized air yards in Week 11, meaning they had a ton of downfield opportunities, but failed to capitalize on them for one reason or another:

  1. Packers WR Allen Lazard (57 receiving yards, 173 air yards = 116 unrealized air yards)
  2. Browns WR Amari Cooper (75)
  3. Packers WR Christian Watson (67)
  4. Colts WR Alec Pierce (60)
  5. Commanders WR Terry McLaurin (50)

Other sheeshes

There were a number of other near misses throughout Week 10 that were tougher to fully blame one particular party, but that doesn’t make the near-miss result any less sheeshful for the fantasy managers and fans at hand to deal with.

Good ball, no dice: Colts WR Alec Pierce made a very nice contested catch down the sideline that would have been good for 30 yards if, you know, he managed to get his feet down inbounds. … Panthers QB Baker Mayfield made a (rare) great throw down the sideline that hit Terrace Marshall in *one* hand; the second-year receiver couldn’t make what would have been a great catch and 18-yard touchdown. … Falcons WR Olamide Zaccheaus had a step deep late in the fourth quarter of the Falcons’ Week 11 win over the Bears. However, he either failed to locate the ball, or lost it in the lights, resulting in a seemingly on-target heave from Marcus Mariota falling incomplete a few feet away from him. Best case, this would have been a 35-yard touchdown. … Rams WR Allen Robinson created some late separation down the sideline, only to let a perfectly thrown 30-yard pearl from Matthew Stafford bounce directly off his hands and fall incomplete. … Broncos WR Courtland Sutton drew a pass interference penalty on what could have been a solid 20-yard reception if he was able to fully extend. … Broncos WR Kendall Hinton had a step on a slot fade that Russell Wilson targeted after getting the Raiders to jump offsides. Russ made a perfect throw; too bad the potential 30-yard chunk gain bounced off Hinton's hands and fell incomplete. … Vikings TE T.J. Hockenson managed to make a great catch down the sideline for what would have been a 29-yard gain had he managed to get both of his feet down inbounds. … Texans WR Brandin Cooks had two miscues on Sunday: 1.) He let a potential 45-yard gain down the sideline bounce directly off his helmet and into the hands of the defense, and 2.) He dropped maybe the best throw that Davis Mills has made all season down the seam on what should have good a solid 20-yard gain. … Packers WR Allen Lazard badly wanted a flag thrown after battling (and ultimately failing) for a potential 31-yard touchdown. Lazard also had a pair of catchable 15-yard gains bounce off his hands, although neither were egregious enough to officially register as drops.

Not the worst throw, but also not the best: Three plays stood out that featured an off-target throw, albeit something close to perfection would have been needed to pull off the completion:

  • Eagles RB Miles Sanders got loose deep after Jalen Hurts managed to extend the play. Unfortunately, Hurts’ downfield heave was underthrown and “only” resulted in a 39-yard DPI-induced gain; a perfect downfield shot could have resulted in a best-case 67-yard touchdown, although Sanders’ notoriously meh hands don’t make this theoretical catch a given.
  • Commanders TE Logan Thomas created just enough space in the back corner of the end zone to believe that Taylor Heinicke had a chance to squeeze the ball in there. Alas, the potential seven-yard touchdown was high and fell incomplete.
  • Vikings WR K.J. Osborn couldn’t quite snag a back-shoulder throw down the sideline that would have been good for 20-plus yards. Tough throw, but one that Kirk Cousins did indeed fail to put right on the mark.

Just short. Sheesh: The following players were tackled at the 1-yard line in Week 11. Note that sequences where a player was downed just short of the goal line, but later went on to score the touchdown themself on the same drive, aren’t listed:


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