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Fantasy Football: Week 11 key wide receiver questions and tight end analysis

Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Dallas Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz (86) reaches out with the football to score a touchdown in front of Green Bay Packers safety Adrian Amos (31) during the second quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

  • Cowboys TE Dalton Schultz has earned weekly top-five treatment with Dak Prescott healthy and under center.
  • Commanders WR Terry McLaurin looks capable of booming more than usual ahead of a winnable shadow matcahup with Texans CB Derek Stingley Jr.
  • 49ers WR Deebo Samuel hasn’t been the same efficient monster in the passing game this season.
Estimated reading time: 30 minutes


Week 11 is here! It’s truly a great day to be great.

What follows is a fantasy football-themed breakdown of each and every wide receiver and tight end group. The following seven categories will be analyzed for all 28 teams playing this week:

  • Week 11 WR Fantasy Rankings: Where the wide receiver falls in my fantasy ranks. Updated ranks can be found throughout the week on PFF.com as well as the new PFF app.
  • WR Usage: Every team’s top-three wide receivers in terms of last week’s route rate alongside their season-long marks in targets per route run and yards per route run.
  • Week 11 Matchup: Opponent’s rank in PPR points allowed to opposing wide receivers as well as their team PFF coverage grade. Higher numbers are better for wide receivers; “32” illustrates the worst defense in a given category, and “1” is the best.
  • Shadow Matchups: Denotes whether or not any wide receivers are expected to be “shadowed” by a specific cornerback.
  • Week 11 TE Fantasy Rankings: Where the tight end falls in my fantasy ranks. Updated ranks can be found throughout the week on PFF.com as well as the new PFF app.
  • TE Usage: Every team’s top-two tight ends in terms of last week’s route rate alongside their season-long marks in targets per route run and yards per route run.
  • Key question: One key question for every team that is on my mind.

 

JUMP TO A TEAM:

ARZ | ATL | BLT | BUF | CAR | CIN | CHI | CLE | DEN | DAL | DET | GB | HOU | IND | KC | LVR | LAC | LAR | MIN | NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF | TEN | WSH


ARIZONA CARDINALS

  • Week 10 WR Fantasy Ranking: DeAndre Hopkins (WR3), Rondale Moore (WR24), A.J. Green (WR63)
  • WR Usage: DeAndre Hopkins (100% routes, 0.28 targets per route run, 2.41 yards per route run), Rondale Moore (95%, 0.2, 1.48), A.J. Green (43%, 0.12, 0.33)
  • Week 10 WR Matchup: SF: 18 in PPR per game to WR, 4 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 10 TE Fantasy Rankings: Trey McBride (TE14)
  • TE Usage: Trey McBride (80% routes, 0.04 targets per route run, 0.33 yards per route run), Zach Ertz (23%, 0.18, 1.08)

Key question: What could the continued absence of Kyler Murray (hamstring) mean for the fantasy upside of this passing game?

Well things didn’t go so bad last week. DeAndre Hopkins (10-98-0) put up 8-71-0 of his impressive performance directly in Jalen Ramsey’s shadow coverage, while Rondale Moore turned in his second consecutive overall PPR WR16 performance with a 9-94-0 receiving line on a season-high 13 targets.

Thirty-six-year-old Colt McCoy has now had four spot starts over the past two seasons, demonstrating an ability to play at a pretty damn solid level more times than not with an occasional dud mixed in:

  • Week 9, 2021: 249 pass yards-1 TD-0 INT, 31 points scored
  • Week 10, 2021: 107-0-1, 10 points scored
  • Week 11, 2021: 328-2-0, 23 points scored
  • Week 10, 2022: 238-1-0, 27 points scored

The artist known as Nuk ranks third in expected PPR points per game this season and is locked in as a weekly upside WR1 regardless of the matchup. Moore has also earned top-24 treatment in full-PPR scoring with McCoy treating him as a true 1.B pass-game option last week. The 49ers don’t exactly present the sort of defense that one would expect a true boom against, but their standing as just the 18th-ranked defense in fewest PPR points per game allowed to the position demonstrates that they aren’t an auto-fade matchup by any stretch.

And then there’s Marquise Brown (foot, IR), who has been designated to return and has “a chance” to play according to head coach Kliff Kinsgbury. This offense hasn’t exactly offered a ton of meat on the bone for anybody involved; adding another talented pass-catcher to the fold won’t help. The return is particularly concerning for Moore considering there’s at least a chance that the Cardinals revert to their 2021 sins and keep him in more of a gadgety role as opposed to the full-time starting slot receiver that he’s been for most of this season.

The final significant piece of this passing game is rookie TE Trey McBride. The receiving ability here could be legit; PFF’s 2022 NFL Draft Guide had nothing but good things to say about the Colorado State talent:

Where he wins: Downfield. McBride wins where so few tight ends do — down the football field. He can get past the linebacker-level swiftly and then presents a massive target over the middle. He can do it all while also being a respectable blocker.

What’s his role: All-around TE. McBride is a starting in-line tight end from Day 1. The leap in competition obviously presents a learning curve, but he's talented and proven enough to not stress about it.

Where he can improve: Physical routes. McBride could stand to get even more physical as a route-runner. He's too content with someone hanging on him at times, knowing he's likely to win at the catch point, which won't always be the case in the league.”

McBride played a true every-down role with a 91% snap rate after Zach Ertz (knee, IR) was lost for the season last week. This isn’t guaranteed to persist moving forward — 2021 starting TE Maxx Williams is likely to be elevated to the active roster ahead of Monday night — but at a minimum McBride profiles as the offense’s primary pass-catching tight end. I’m waiting a week before throwing him in the position’s top 10 due to the potential for Williams to split things fairly evenly, but another week with a true full-time role with have the talented rookie looking like a rock-solid TE1 the rest of the way.


ATLANTA FALCONS

  • Week 10 WR Fantasy Ranking: Drake London (WR39), Olamide Zaccheaus (WR60), Damiere Byrd (WR77)
  • WR Usage: Drake London (92% routes, 0.25 targets per route run, 1.7 yards per route run), Olamide Zaccheaus (78%, 0.15, 1.9), Damiere Byrd (54%, 0.19, 2.67)
  • Week 10 WR Matchup: CHI: 11 in PPR per game to WR, 27 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 10 TE Fantasy Rankings: Kyle Pitts (TE8)
  • TE Usage: Kyle Pitts (89% routes, 0.26 targets per route run, 1.61 yards per route run), Parker Hesse (14%, 0.07, 0.61)

Key question: Just how messed up has the Kyle Pitts experience been?

Pretty sad, all things considered. Overall, only Chris Olave (475) and Diontae Johnson (445) have more unrealized air yards than Pitts (422) this season, meaning they have missed out on more downfield opportunities than any other pass-catchers in the NFL.

That’s the most frustrating part here: Pitts’ usage has actually been fine enough despite operating in the NFL’s most run-heavy offense. The TE7 in expected PPR points per game this season, Pitts stands out more for leading the position with 34.2 fantasy points below expectation on the season.

Obviously, fantasy managers didn’t draft Pitts in the third round to get the TE7 in expected PPR points; just realize that would standing would be amazing compared to his real status as the TE21 in PPR points per game. As sad as it is, Pitts continues to boast the talent profile and just enough of a workload to warrant top-eight treatment, especially with bye weeks and so many top options at the position dealing with injuries. 


BALTIMORE RAVENS

  • Week 10 WR Fantasy Ranking: Devin Duvernay (WR34), James Proche (WR71)
  • WR Usage: Devin Duvernay (80% routes, 0.15 targets per route run, 1.54 yards per route run), Demarcus Robinson (68%, 0.18, 0.94), James Proche (32%, 0.12, 0.78) 
  • Week 10 WR Matchup: CAR: 23 in PPR per game to WR, 26 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 10 TE Fantasy Rankings: Isaiah Likely (TE6)
  • TE Usage: Isaiah Likely (80% routes, 0.19 targets per route run, 1.44 yards per route run), Josh Oliver (48%, 0.13, 0.68)

Key question: How should fantasy managers treat Isaiah Likely if Mark Andrews (shoulder) is again sidelined?

Andrews is certainly a top-two option at the position whenever healthy enough to suit up, while Likely has posted 6-77-1 and 1-24-1 receiving lines in his two extended appearances this season. Sadly, the latter performance was good enough to earn PPR TE9 honors on the week.

The tight end position is in such shambles at the moment that Likely truly warrants top-six treatment immediately thanks to his status as a legit top-two pass-game option when Andrews is sidelined. This is especially true against PFF’s seventh-lowest-graded defense in coverage grade.

A full-time role in an offense implied to score the second-most points of the Week (27.25), I would start Likely over any tight end not named Travis Kelce, George Kittle, T.J. Hockenson Dalton Schultz and Gerald Everett (groin) should Andrews be unable to suit up.


BUFFALO BILLS

  • Week 10 WR Fantasy Ranking: Stefon Diggs (WR4), Gabriel Davis (WR18), Isaiah McKenzie (WR46)
  • WR Usage: Stefon Diggs (98% routes, 0.28 targets per route run, 2.89 yards per route run), Gabriel Davis (98%, 0.14, 1.6), Isaiah McKenzie (80%, 0.15, 1.02)
  • Week 10 WR Matchup: CLE: 16 in PPR per game to WR, 18 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 10 TE Fantasy Rankings: Dawson Knox (TE20)
  • TE Usage: Dawson Knox (82% routes, 0.13 targets per route run, 0.93 yards per route run), Quintin Morris (20%, 0.07, 0.69)

Key question: Will this Bills offense still attempt to throw if *feet* of snowfall in Buffalo?

The weather forecast for Sunday is pretty wild, although perhaps being a bit overstated. Rotogrinders weather expert Kevin Roth does note that the vast majority of snow is expected to fall in the days leading up to Sunday, meaning the field could wind up being relatively clear at gametime when it matters.

Of course, expected 15 MPH winds gusting to 25 MPH alongside at least some snow certainly doesn’t profile as ideal circumstances for one of just two offenses throwing the football on more than 70% of their plays in non-garbage time situations this season. Then again, the Bills have told Mother Nature to f*ck off before, as Josh Allen threw a whopping 30 pass attempts in last season’s mess of a Week 13 game against the Patriots that featured wind gusts up to 40 MPH.

Ultimately, the spotty weather conditions are enough to fade Gabriel Davis, Isaiah McKenzie and Dawson Knox in close start/sit decisions, but Stefon Diggs needs to continue to be jammed into starting lineups of all shapes and sizes against the NFL’s 31st-ranked defense in both scoring and EPA allowed per play.


CAROLINA PANTHERS

  • Week 10 WR Fantasy Ranking: D.J. Moore (WR22), Terrace Marshall Jr. (WR53)
  • WR Usage: D.J. Moore (95% routes, 0.23 targets per route run, 1.53 yards per route run), Terrace Marshall Jr. (95%, 0.17, 1.69), Laviska Shenault Jr. (53%, 0.47, 4.7)
  • Week 10 WR Matchup: BAL: 27 in PPR per game to WR, 16 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 10 TE Fantasy Rankings: Tommy Tremble (TE31)
  • TE Usage: Tommy Tremble (42% routes, 0.12 targets per route run, 0.66 yards per route run), Ian Thomas (37%, 0.16, 1.11)

Key question: What does the return of Baker Mayfield mean for this passing game?

One the one hand, Mayfield played his best ball of the season the last time he was on the field, completing 14 of 20 passes for 155 yards and a pair of scores with no interceptions or sacks during the second half of the Panthers’ blowout loss to the Bengals. On the other, his other five appearances this season were bad enough to land him near the bottom of essentially any passing metric out there other than taking care of the football (which is important to be fair):

  • PFF passing grade: 53.9 (No. 35 among 38 quarterbacks with 100-plus dropbacks)
  • Passer rating: 78.1 (No. 33)
  • Yards per attempt: 6.5 (No. 32)
  • Adjusted completion rate: 56.5% (No. 38)
  • Big-time throw rate: 1.6% (No. 36)
  • Turnover-worthy play rate: 2.9% (tied for No. 11)

Ultimately, Laviska Shenault (PPR WR19 in Week 3) is the only wide receiver presently employed by the Panthers who managed to post a PPR finish better than WR29 during Mayfield’s five starts this season. That performance was memorably made possible by Viska taking a short check-down 67 yards to the house; Mayfield has yet to put together 60 consecutive good minutes of football this season, and a hater could argue he hasn’t squeezed together that threshold in his 22 quarters played combined.

Bye weeks and injuries keep D.J. Moore on the WR2 borderline, especially ahead of a doable-enough matchup on paper against the Ravens’ 27th-ranked defense in PPR points per game allowed to opposing wide receivers. Still, he’s not an auto-start option by any stretch of the imagination inside of the league’s 32nd-ranked offense in EPA per pass play.


CHICAGO BEARS

  • Week 10 WR Fantasy Ranking: Darnell Mooney (WR32), Chase Claypool (WR48), Equanimeous St. Brown (WR76)
  • WR Usage: Darnell Mooney (96% routes, 0.19 targets per route run, 1.69 yards per route run), Equanimeous St. Brown (54%, 0.12, 0.8), Dante Pettis (50%, 0.11, 1)
  • Week 10 WR Matchup: ATL: 32 in PPR per game to WR, 24 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 10 TE Fantasy Rankings: Cole Kmet (TE9)
  • TE Usage: Cole Kmet (77% routes, 0.13 targets per route run, 1.15 yards per route run), Trevon Wesco (15%, 0.07, 0.85)

Key question: Is there enough volume in this passing game to take advantage of this more than winnable matchup?

Not enough to feel particularly good about any parties involved. Only five teams have one or less instance of a pass-catcher having double-digit targets in a game this season: Titans, Texans, Falcons, Giants and the Bears.

Credit to Darnell Mooney for gaining 50-plus yards or scoring a touchdown in seven consecutive games; he’s a perfectly fine WR3 option against the Falcons’ league-worst defense in PPR points per game allowed to the position. Meanwhile, Chase Claypool had worse usage in Week 10 (2 targets, 19 snaps) than he did in his Week 9 debut (6 targets, 26 snaps). He’s not a recommended start until the Bears decide to, you know, play the guy that they just traded a second-round pick for.

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