Nelson Agholor resurgence, injury roundtable: Week 11 recap

November 24, 2020

There were some great matchups this week, weren’t there? An overtime game, huge divisional matchups, upsets. And hey, the Jets are 0-11 with no end in sight. Some things never change. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone this coming week! Let’s dive into what happened in Week 11.

Game of the week:

Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks (21-28)

A huge divisional tilt went Seattle’s way on Thursday Night Football. Seattle gave a flashback to last year where Russell Wilson was the waiter in the restaurant rather than the cook. He gave fantastic service, but the game wasn’t put on his shoulders. Instead Seattle leaned on the run game, led by Carlos Hyde who looked surprisingly spry for a 30-year-old running back. His 14 carries led the team, and his 68% snap share was the highest of any Seattle running back since Week 8. With Chris Carson (foot) likely to be back in Week 12, Hyde will return to be the handcuff. But it seems unlikely that Hyde is completely eliminated from the game plan based on how he played on Thursday night.

Normally there’s a second bit here about Seattle. But I’ll keep it short. Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf are great players who are in your fantasy lineup week-in and week-out. Each still found a way to be productive despite Wilson attempting just 28 passes, tied for a season low. It’s what happens when you have an MVP-caliber quarterback throwing your way.

For Arizona, it was a letdown after Kyler Murray made huge strides in the MVP conversation. The sophomore quarterback was clearly hampered by a shoulder injury that left his arm hanging, and while he pushed through it certainly hampered his throws. It was a disappointing day for everyone in a perfect matchup against Seattle, who was allowing the most fantasy points to wide receivers. DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk both finished outside the WR3 range. Chalk it up to the shoulder injury, perhaps, but this should be revealing for Kirk. Even in the best of matchups he’s a boom-or-bust type of player. Sometimes it will be him, other times it will be 37-year-old Larry Fitzgerald who led the team in targets, receptions and receiving yards.

But the final note of this game? Chase Edmonds is better in a reserve role. This just happens for some players, and the scat back was as efficient as ever. His six touches went for 48 yards and a score. He’s the clear receiving choice out of the backfield and while Kenyan Drake had a solid game for fantasy, he just lacks the burst that Edmonds has. Both can co-exist, although Drake’s touchdown upside and workload is more secure, leaving him with the higher floor and ceiling.

Player of the week

Nelson Agholor (nine targets, six receptions, 88 yards and a touchdown)

Rookies Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards don’t seem ready to take a major role in this offense and Darren Waller can’t do everything. So, Agholor stepped up and took the No. 1 role, which has certainly been up-and-down this season. But Agholor has been flirting with WR3 value and this week was a big step towards cementing his role in fantasy. His 443 yards lead the Raiders wide receivers, and he’s done it on just 24 receptions. The Raiders have had a tough schedule in terms of fantasy matchups for their wide receivers but face Atlanta and the New York Jets in the next two weeks. Agholor should be viewed as a FLEX in those games and a primary waiver pickup this week.

Bust of the week

Tee Higgins (10 targets, three receptions, 26 yards)

10 targets are good. Three receptions for 26 yards is not.

This would normally be viewed as a forgive-and-forget game given his past production. Higgins has been outstanding as a rookie and will certainly be a big part of this offense for years to come. But the injury to Joe Burrow (torn ACL) will likely implode his fantasy value. Ryan Finley might be able to support a reliable slot receiver like Tyler Boyd, but we see this all the time with young, unproven backups — they create abyss-level floors for their outside wide receivers. A.J. Green and Higgins will be fighting for scraps in a suddenly deflated Bengals offense. Touchdowns are a luxury and trusting Finley to get the rookie the ball is a tall order. Be warned; this will not be the last time Higgins craters.

Storyline to watch

Will Taysom Hill continue to get the job done?

Call me a skeptic but no, I don’t think Hill is a good quarterback. What he was on Sunday was efficient and steady, however, which is all this offense needs when it’s surrounded by reliable weapons. Atlanta is not a tough defense to beat, so watching Hill against Denver will be telling. While a tremendously small sample size, Hill only targeted Alvin Kamara once in Week 11 which is a red flag for his value as an elite running back. When you have a talent like Kamara you chalk this up to just an unfortunate week, but Hill is here to stay while Drew Brees is on the injured reserve. Hopefully he can buck the trend and steal some of the 12 targets Michael Thomas saw, who rewarded owners who stuck with him all season by finishing as the WR16.

 We all thought this was the Jameis Winston revival train leaving the station — but that train can’t get over the Hill. Pun intended.

Injury roundtable

Joe Burrow (torn ACL)

Devastating. A potential Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign won’t see a conclusion as Burrow will miss the rest of the season and possibly next. Burrow also tore his MCL and has other structural damage in his knee. This is what happens when you don’t build an offensive line around your young, franchise quarterback, Cincinnati. In his wake Ryan Finley will try to manage this offense. The high passing attempts this scheme offers put him on the low-QB2 radar but make no mistake. This severely limits the offense and all facets, as I wrote above with Higgins.

Kyler Murray (shoulder)

Murray’s shoulder was dangling all night but at least he had the luxury of playing on Thursday, which gives him over a week to get healthier. He suffered an AC joint sprain, but he was able to finish the game. He told reporters after the game that his shoulder is “good,” so there isn’t much concern out in the desert.

Philip Rivers (toe)

This won’t keep Rivers off the field. He’s a tough one. But it seems like a painful injury as the 38-year-old sprained his toe against the Packers. He’s never been the guy to burst up field, scrambling for the first down so this will likely just lead to another game of pocket passing. I wouldn’t expect him to miss any time.

La’Mical Perine (ankle)

At least we can stop begging Adam Gase to play him more. Perine was put on the injured reserve immediately following his ankle injury. Whether he returns when he is eligible to in Week 15 is anyone’s guess but it’s a disappointing marker on an already underwhelming season. Frank Gore should have a more secure workload, especially on the goal line (the one time a week the Jets get there). Ty Johnson will step in as the change-of-pace running back.

Julio Jones (hamstring)

Jones played just 35% of the snaps on Sunday as he fought a hamstring injury. We all know how Jones is with injuries — he can play through the worst of them. But this was clearly impacting the star receiver’s ability to just get on the field and head coach Raheem Morris told Falcons reporter William McFadden Jones is a “game-time decision.” If he’s active, you play him. We have too much history of Jones playing well as a game-time decision. If he’s inactive it might be time to forgive Hayden Hurst who bombed lineups this past week with a goose egg. His best games have come when either Jones or Ridley have missed time.

Juju Smith-Schuster (toe)

It was a weird injury for Smith-Schuster who tripped over the weighted portion of a penalty flag in Sunday’s win over Jacksonville. The team said that he could have returned to the game if he needed to, but the Monday estimated practice report put him down as a Did Not Participate. If he can log a limited practice ahead of Thanksgiving’s game against Baltimore, he should be good to go.

Randall Cobb (toe)

Cobb has been ruled out for this week, and likely the season, with a toe injury, but the veteran slot receiver is seeking a second opinion. He’s been a desperate PPR option for some in fantasy but likely does not have any valuable successor. The name to watch would be Keke Coutee, who has flirted with fantasy relevance in years past as the slot option for Deshaun Watson. He did manage to catch a touchdown while logging 58% of snaps following Cobb’s injury.

Rex Burkhead (torn ACL)

Brutal. Burkhead’s season is over after a surprisingly effective year. His role as the pass-catcher makes James White viable once more — Sony Michel and Damien Harris have never been trusted in that role. White should be a priority pickup worthy of your FAAB should he be on your wire. Ahead of free agency it will be a long ask for Burkhead to find a meaningful role in 2021.

Greg Olsen (foot)

The former Panther suffered a fascia tear in his foot and will be sidelined for the remainder of the season. While never fantasy relevant himself, his absence frees up meaningful snaps for Jacob Hollister and Will Dissly. The latter of which is the one to watch as the one with the highest upside given his past production.

A final trio of quick hitters

  • COVID-19 is running through the league like every week; only this time there’s an abundance of games to be played on Thursday for Thanksgiving. J.K. Dobbins, Adam Thielen and Mark Ingram are just a few names to watch as members of the reserve/COVID-19 list. If they have the virus, they will miss Thursday. If they don’t, they will need to test negative for three straight days ahead of Thanksgiving. Be on top of this and pick up Gus Edwards.
  • The Lions desperately missed Kenny Golladay (hip) and D’Andre Swift. When you watched Sunday’s game it was shocking to realize that Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson, those two guys who rushed 13 times for 35 yards combined, kept Swift off the field.
  • This seems like the beginning of the end of the Matt Ryan era. He completed just 19 of his 37 attempts for 232 yards and two interceptions. The Falcons are financially tied to him until 2022, which sets the team up well to take a rookie signal caller in the upcoming draft and groom him behind Ryan, who will earn over $40 million this season and next.