Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings
The Cowboys emerged from their bye with a healthy Andy Dalton and a much more competent offense, including Ezekiel Elliott recording his first 100-yard rushing game of the season during the team’s 31-28 upset win. The Vikings’ defense had been playing much better of late, yet Dalton’s return resulted in as many touchdowns before halftime (two) that Dallas had scored in total since Dak Prescott went down in Week 5.
Elliott had still been battling hamstring issues throughout practice this week but looked better after the bye, although Tony Pollard recorded Dallas’ longest run of the season during his 42-yard touchdown … CeeDee Lamb had a really nice TD catch, and Dalton Schultz should be a weekly viable option now in a weak tight end group. However, the Cowboys’ schedule doesn’t look super easy down the stretch, so while Dalton’s return helps, it remains unlikely the team can keep three wide receivers’ fantasy values afloat as everyone hoped entering the season.
Dalvin Cook lost a fumble but shook off a hard hit and continues to look like the best back in the league right now, while Kirk Cousins entered leading the NFL in Passer Rating during the fourth quarter and then added another two TD tosses in the game’s final 15 minutes. Cousins leads the league in YPA this season (and ranks second in CPAE) and has now thrown a whopping 14 touchdowns over five home games.
Adam Thielen entered as the NFL’s leader in end-zone targets and added another two touchdown grabs, while Justin Jefferson entered with the most receiving yards in the league since Week 3 (and averaging the third-most receiving yards per game ever as a rookie) and scored Sunday as well. Jefferson is yet another impressive rookie receiver this year, as he actually leads the NFL in yards per route run, although he had a drop that helped end Minnesota’s final drive. The Vikings remain one of the league’s biggest enigmas, as this was their first loss since Week 6 (when they were also sizable home favorites). And now they’re unsure of Thielen’s Week 12 status after placing him on the COVID-19/reserve list.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Cleveland Browns
Weather was a factor for the third straight game in Cleveland, although Carson Wentz is running out of excuses with another rough performance. The first-place Eagles seem reluctant to bench Wentz, who has the most turnovers and sacks taken in the NFL, but Jalen Hurts needs to be rostered in Superflex leagues … Miles Sanders also disappointed against a defense missing Myles Garrett, losing a fumble at Cleveland’s five-yard line … Kareem Hunt got a goal-line TD, but Nick Chubb was once again Cleveland’s best running back, as he leads the NFL in YPC after contact by a wide margin … The Eagles are the only team that’s allowed more rushing touchdowns than passing TDs this season. The 7-3 Browns now go on the road four of their next five games.
Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints
Taysom Hill looked like a mobile Drew Brees in an impressive performance that included another 57-yard TD pass called back by penalty (and a rare Michael Thomas drop). Hill got 10.1 YPA while becoming just the third quarterback in NFL history to make his first career start at 30+ years old, and he’s now a weekly fantasy starter given his rushing ability (Hill led the Saints in rushing yards Sunday and added two scores on the ground) … It was a favorable matchup, but Hill also showed a good connection with Michael Thomas, whose fantasy managers can breathe a big sigh of relief … Matt Ryan watched Julio Jones leave early and his o-line get overwhelmed, resulting in eight sacks and zero offensive touchdowns for Atlanta … Alvin Kamara scored against a Falcons defense that’s been stingy versus fantasy backs, but his one target is absolutely concerning moving forward given the QB switch.
Detroit Lions vs. Carolina Panthers
P.J. Walker had a couple of bad picks but was plenty competent otherwise, taking advantage of a favorable matchup to help keep all three Carolina receivers relevant. Matthew Stafford, on the other hand, struggled badly while playing through a sprained thumb and without Kenny Golladay, Danny Amendola, and D’Andre Swift. Stafford has dramatic splits with/without Kenny G this season, and Sunday he had a 51-yard TD to Marvin Jones called back by an inconsequential five-yard penalty, as it’s been a rough season for the Lions … In a prime matchup and with Detroit missing many pieces on offense including Swift, the once-promising Kerryon Johnson still finished with fewer carries and yards than 35-year-old Adrian Peterson … Why not target T.J. Hockenson more?
New England Patriots vs. Houston Texans
Cam Newton switched it up and threw for 365 yards but added just six rushing yards without a score on the ground, while Deshaun Watson continues to carry Houston’s offense, helping the Texans win during the oldest coaching matchup in NFL history. Watson now sports a decent 61:3 TD:INT ratio in the red-zone during his career, and while he obviously won’t get any votes, he’s played like an MVP this season … Duke Johnson is doing his best job of making David Johnson look decent, while Jakobi Meyers went from ranking #1 in WOPR over the last three weeks to somehow seeing just three measly targets Sunday (that also featured a Donte Moncrief sighting!) … Damien Harris entered getting 5.5 YPC despite facing the highest average number of defenders in the box this season (he's also Alabama's all-time leader in YPC) but managed just 3.9 YPC against a Houston run defense that entered ranked last in DVOA. Still, Harris added a touchdown and saw his first target in November, and Sony Michel was a healthy scratch, so it wasn’t all bad.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Props to Jacksonville for attempting an onside kick after going up 3-0 early, as big underdogs should increase variance like that, although one could argue giving the ball back to Jake Luton (15.5 Passer Rating) wouldn’t increase the team’s win probability … Ben Roethlisberger got 5.8 YPA against a Jaguars defense that entered allowing an NFL-high 8.6 YPA, and James Conner once again got removed from the goal-line, disappointing some fantasy managers in a highly favorable matchup. Of course, Pittsburgh won by 24 points anyway, as the team improved to 10-0 for the first time in franchise history ... Diontae Johnson saw a whopping 16 targets, including this highlight-worthy grab, while Chase Claypool became the first player in the Super Bowl era to record 10 TD catches in the first 10 games of his career.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Washington Football Team
Joe Burrow suffered a serious injury, as Washington continues to be the most dangerous place for quarterbacks’ legs. Burrow certainly impressed during his rookie season, which isn’t shocking to see end prematurely given all the hits he was being subjected to while leading the NFL in pass attempts. Ryan Finley is a big downgrade for Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and Gio Bernard … Antonio Gibson has more touches over the last weeks than he had carries throughout his college career, and he’s lapping most other rookie backs not named James Robinson in fantasy value right now.
Tennessee Titans vs. Baltimore Ravens
Lamar Jackson was OK during a matchup most were hoping for an eruption, as it doesn’t appear Baltimore’s offense will be fixed anytime soon. It was nice to see Mark Andrews so involved, as was seeing J.K. Dobbins emerge as the Ravens’ apparent new lead back, but Marquise Brown’s nightmare season bottomed out with three catchless targets that included one ugly drop against a Titans defense that entered allowing the second-most fantasy points to wide receivers. Is Dez Bryant really going to have more fantasy value down the stretch? … Derrick Henry’s second overtime touchdown of the season was also the 50th TD run of his career, literally handing the Ravens an L.
Miami Dolphins vs. Denver Broncos
Drew Lock was better after an early pick, but he mostly struggled yet again and had his final numbers aided by this weird 61-yard completion on the game’s final play … Tua Tagovailoa failed during his attempt to become the first rookie QB since Ben Roethlisberger to win his first four games, as he took six sacks while getting just 4.2 YPA before being benched in the fourth quarter. It seems unlikely, but it would be good news for DeVante Parker if Miami turned back to Ryan Fitzpatrick … Salvon Ahmed left at one point Sunday but returned and continued to dominate Miami’s backfield, including seeing six targets, so his arrow continues to point up despite the poor box score. Matt Breida’s return didn’t matter, and the Dolphins’ schedule really eases up now, so the only concern would be Myles Gaskin returning … Melvin Gordon scored two touchdowns and nearly had a third, only to lose a fumble right at the goal line.
New York Jets vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Herbert’s 277 passing yards in the first half were the second-most in the league this season, and the rookie finished with another three scores while making it look easy (and it’s not his fault the Chargers make winning so difficult). Joe Flacco countered with one of the worst pick-sixes you’ll ever see ... Frank Gore scored a touchdown one day after his son hit pay dirt, which certainly seems more important than auditioning La’Mical Perine for the future … Kalen Ballage fought through an early injury but disappointed during his revenge game given the matchup and nine targets … Of course, that’s still 10 fewer than Keenan Allen’s 19 (!) looks … Breshad Perriman had video game-like workout metrics for someone his size, so he’d be quite interesting if things ever broke right ... He’ll be easy to overlook in a loaded rookie WR class and because of the Jets’ situation, but Denzel Mims has really impressed during his short time on the field this year ... The Jets have twice as many roughing the passer penalties (10) as any other team in the NFL, which is extra impressive considering they are among the bottom teams in QB pressures … Just when we thought 2020 couldn’t possibly get any stranger, Chris Herndon caught a touchdown.
Green Bay Packers vs. Indianapolis Colts
The Packers scored 28 points in the first half but were held to just three in the second half, which included an overtime possession that abruptly ended with a Marquez Valdes-Scantling softly-lost fumble (such an MVS move). The odd game also included a ton of holding penalties and a sequence late that saw the Colts run just 1:41 off the clock over 14 snaps ... Sunday morning reports suggested Nyheim Hines (six carries, two yards) might take over Indy’s backfield, but it was Jonathan Taylor who dominated the work with 26 touches. Taylor entered ranked bottom-five in YPC after contact and elusive rating, so this was certainly an encouraging development. The rookie had a 20+ yard TD run called back by a penalty as well, although admittedly the hold helped … Michael Pittman Jr. needs to be seeing more than three targets.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Las Vegas Raiders
A back-and-forth game saw a combined 28 points scored in the fourth quarter, when Patrick Mahomes led a two-minute drive culminating with a winning TD strike to Travis Kelce. Mahomes’ only two picks this season have both curiously come against the Raiders, and he’s now on pace to record 46 touchdowns on the year … Derek Carr countered with a strong game versus a KC defense that’s been stingy against fantasy QBs, and Henry Ruggs’ usage (one target) is becoming bizarre as the first wide receiver taken in the draft who’s on a team with only castoffs as competition … Clyde Edwards-Helaire scored two touchdowns for the first time, with Le’Veon Bell adding a rushing score as well (seemingly running through quicksand), as Kansas City’s backfield finally produced as expected.
While Kelce and Tyreek Hill got their usual volume, it was disappointing to see Mecole Hardman no-show (and Demarcus Robinson get seven more targets) despite Sammy Watkins being out again … The AFC currently has two 6-4 teams that wouldn’t make the playoffs (despite the expansion) if the season ended today, while the NFC East has a 3-6-1 team leading the division.