Game environment is the foundational starting point in making fantasy decisions. As such, I’m going to break down each game on the slate into three categories: Binge, Stream and Skip.
Games you want to “binge” are like the show you can’t miss; you’re watching as soon as it goes live and might just crush all the episodes in one weekend. These are the start-all-your-guys fantasy games and ones with season-defining storylines.
Games you want to “stream” are like the shows you certainly watch start to finish, but perhaps you’re finishing it over time instead of one shot. While these games might not feature a ton of “must-starts,” we can pick and choose our spots, and the teams are likely to matter in the NFL playoff picture.
Lastly, the games you want to “skip” are like the shows you’re leaning toward passing on, but you might catch an episode here and there (or might stick to reading recaps online to stay up with the culture). There will be a non-obvious player or two who stands out in these games, but overall, they aren’t the best environment for fantasy football.
Let’s dive into my Week 11 Fantasy Football Viewer’s Guide.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES at KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
The two top teams in the league will meet as both come off their bye week. A delightful matchup awaits in this Super Bowl rematch where the bones of both 2022 teams remain but several critical areas of transition have emerged.
From a fantasy football matchup perspective, those winds of change have blown through opposite sides of the ball for Kansas City and Philadelphia.
Biggest Storyline: Is the Eagles defense a real issue? The pass rush is still a strength of the roster. They rank third in quarterback hits this season, behind two teams who haven’t gone on bye yet. Despite that result, the Eagles defense is 19th in EPA per dropback allowed. That shows they have real issues covering on the back end, as Darius Slay and James Bradberry aren’t the same dynamic duo at corner this season. The middle-of-the-field coverage has been an issue all season. Not ideal with Travis Kelce on the ledger.
Stat you need to know
When the play is perfectly covered, how often do QBs either 1) run for positive EPA or 2) engineer a throw into an open window. The sum of these 2 is what we'll call "create rate" (X axis)
All the credit to @greerreNFL for this great idea pic.twitter.com/aNuUOcENFT
— Jrfortgang (@throwthedamball) November 14, 2023
I love this chart because it shows how much Patrick Mahomes has had to create outside the structure of the offense this season. He doesn’t trust what’s in front of him and it’s hard to blame him. With the way Philly rushes the passer, I can see Mahomes breaking contain on some big scrambles. His rushing prop is a mere 25.5 yards and I like the over.
Player in a smash spot: Rashee Rice. The Chiefs rookie has run 58% of his routes from the slot this season, per Fantasy Points Data. I’d like to see him expand his role further but this is an excellent matchup to exploit for Week 11 since, as mentioned, the Eagles' pass defense has been exploitable in the slot. Rice ranks sixth among all pass-catchers with 40-plus targets in yards after contact per reception. We could see his first true breakout game on Monday night, especially if his role increases in any way.
ARIZONA CARDINALS at HOUSTON TEXANS
I didn’t think this game would be in the “binge” group a few weeks ago but with the return of Kyler Murray and C.J. Stroud’s recent heater, I’m pretty excited to watch this game. Despite the mainstream tanking narrative, I believe the Cardinals' primary goal down the stretch is to stack good Murray performances, build momentum for 2024 and reaffirm their new culture under Jonathan Gannon. That’s good news for us because there are some solid offensive players on this roster.
Meanwhile, the Texans are in the middle of a playoff push with Stroud working his way into the MVP discussion. This matchup has so much more appeal than we would have thought a few months back. This can be one of the highest-scoring games of the week.
Biggest Storyline: Kyler Murray looked great in his 2023 debut. He needs to shake off more rust as a passer, as to be expected, but he uncorked some accurate heaters that only inner-circle quarterbacks can hit:
it's insane that people forgot this guy is a good QB lmao pic.twitter.com/VSVAgGnVDX
— Derrik Klassen (@QBKlass) November 13, 2023
Perhaps even more critically, he avoided three sacks, per Fantasy Points Data, and ripped off two huge scrambles. He looked like the same athlete we remember. This is a guy who can elevate an offense and there are guys like Marquise Brown, James Conner, sleeper rookie Michael Wilson and a particular breakout tight end (more on him below) worth boosting in Arizona.
Stat you need to know: Trey McBride is second behind only Travis Kelce in yards per route run (2.39) and targets per route run (27.4%), per Ian Hartitz of Fantasy Life. McBride has come alive since veteran tight end Zach Ertz went on IR. With Murray back in action and his role advancing, saying McBride is a top-10 tight end rest-of-season in fantasy is too obvious. He can climb much higher.
Player in a smash spot: Houston Texans wide receivers. The Arizona Cardinals allow the second-highest completion rate and third-most yards to receivers lined up outside. The cornerback room remains a weak spot. It’s a perfect matchup to start Nico Collins in his return from an injury and to chase Tank Dell's ceiling. The rookie is better suited to play the flanker spot and that will allow him to be more efficient than he was in Week 10 (six catches on 14 targets) when he had to take some X-receiver reps in Collins’ absence.
NEW YORK JETS at BUFFALO BILLS
I get it. I don’t particularly relish watching the Jets' offense right now. However, this game is critical for AFC playoff seeding. If New York loses one more game, their postseason odds drop dramatically, making Aaron Rodgers’ fairy-tale return in December almost irrelevant, if it’s even possible.
The Bills similarly don’t have much margin for error. We know they’re under intense pressure to go on a run just to be in playoff position. Yet, this defense has had Josh Allen’s number and pushed him into brain-scramble mode of late. This game has a ton of NFL implications and therefore, could bring us a few signature performances.
Biggest Storyline: The new Bills offensive coordinator. Despite the offense’s top-five ranking in EPA per play, success rate and DVOA, Ken Dorsey was shown the door. Litigate the justification all you want, there was some reason within the building that caused a change. Joe Brady takes over after similarly being a scapegoat under Matt Rhule’s 2021 Panthers. Brady isn’t likely to scrap the offense and start over but he could strip out a few elements. I maintain this team found a good base offense in their 11-personnel package with Dalton Kincaid as the lone tight end and Khalil Shakir as the slot. The Bills can still finish the season strong on offense, but that was likely true regardless of the play-caller change.
Stat you need to know: The New York Jets play Cover 1 on 26.4% of their defensive plays, fifth-most in the NFL, per Fantasy Points Data. Stefon Diggs is the only player on the team to average over two yards per route run against Cover 1. I know Diggs’ raw target totals are high, but the Bills' offense does have a nasty habit of getting away from him for stretches in games. I bet Brady dials up a ton of looks to get Diggs one-on-one in that simplification effort.
Player in a smash spot: Breece Hall. The Bills allow the third-most yards per carry this season as that run defense has fallen apart. The release of Michael Carter will also open up some passing-down work for Hall.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS at SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Biggest Storyline: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defensive volatility. The Bucs had allowed over 400 total yards in three straight games before demolishing the Titans in Week 10. Does that say more about the Bucs' defense or the Titans' offense? I’ll bet the latter. Todd Bowles can still send a rookie quarterback spinning but Kyle Shanahan’s attack is a different story.
Stat you need to know: Mike Evans is on pace for 1,400 yards and is 263 away from another 1,000-yard season.
He has been leaps and bounds the best player on this offense. Evans is a future Hall of Famer and this season with Baker Mayfield is almost more impressive than his run with Tom Brady, to me. The 49ers have had some issues with outside receivers (122.4 yards per game) so Evans can do it again in Week 11.
Player in a smash spot: Deebo Samuel. The man vs. zone coverage splits sort of worked with the 49ers receivers last week but Samuel only got there in fantasy because of a rushing touchdown. It’s still worth noting that the Bucs play zone coverage at the sixth-highest rate overall, per Fantasy Points Data. That’s the type of defense Samuel is typically best at when facing.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS at CLEVELAND BROWNS
Biggest Storyline: The post-Deshaun Watson world for Cleveland. We’ve seen a ton of this offense without Watson at the helm this season. The results have been verifiably not great. Rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson was a disaster in his lone start of 2023 but will get the nod. It increases the margin for error for every player in the Browns offense, which is likely to lean on the run game and try to play small ball to let their defense win the day.
Stat you need to know: Twenty-one percent of the Steelers’ runs have gone for 10+ yards the last two weeks, the highest rate in the league. Before that, they ranked 18th. Splitting the work between Jaylen Warren and Najee Harris has brought out the best in both backs. They are both low-floor options without a touchdown but still on the RB2 radar.
Player in a smash spot: This is not the game environment where anyone projects to “smash,” but the Steelers wideouts could make some plays despite the bad matchup. The Browns play man coverage at the third-highest rate, per Fantasy Points data. Diontae Johnson averages a whopping 4.79 yards per route run against man coverage this season. George Pickens is at 2.75. Both sink below 2.0 against zone coverage. If Kenny Pickett can get the throws off, his receivers can win.
CHICAGO BEARS at DETROIT LIONS
Biggest Storyline: The Lions offense is humming. The run game looked ferocious with both David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs on the field. The duo rang up three touchdowns and offered explosive plays. The passing game continues to roll when the conditions are right. This is a playoff offense.
Stat you need to know: The Bears have the fourth-best defensive success rate allowed since Week 7, No. 1 in rushing EPA and success rate allowed. Perhaps not so fast on the Lions offense hype this week! Chicago has quietly turned things around as a stop unit, though their schedule of late hasn’t exactly been overly daunting. This is a real test for the Bears and their soaring run-stop unit with a fully integrated Montez Sweat. If they’re to cover the -7.5 spread, this will need to be a trend, not a fluke.
Player in a smash spot: DJ Moore. The targets have been there with Moore under Tyson Bagent but the downfield looks have evaporated. He hasn’t cleared 60 yards in four straight games. He’ll get that and more on Sunday. Keenan Allen just ripped through this Lions' secondary to the tune of 11 catches on 14 targets for 175 yards and two scores.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS at GREEN BAY PACKERS
Biggest Storyline: The Chargers need to take care of business. Los Angeles has little to no margin for error going forward, so this team that so often gets itself into weird games can’t afford a slip as three-point road favorites in Green Bay. There’s already plenty of heat on this coaching staff, which will get ramped up if they lose in Week 11.
Stat you need to know: Jordan Love has thrown five of his 10 interceptions when targeting Christian Watson, who has caught 2 of 12 contested targets on the year, per PFF. At this point, I’m ready to see someone else featured as the first-read player in the Packers passing game.
Rookies Jayden Reed and Dontayvion Wicks have made mistakes but have shown flashes. Meanwhile, Watson has been unable to separate or consistently make contested catches. Simply put, he hasn’t executed in his promotion to clear No. 1 receiver after being a splash big-play threat as a rookie.
Player in a smash spot: Austin Ekeler. Ekeler has gone under 4.0 yards per carry in all of his games since returning from injury. He’s also run into some pretty brutal run defense matchups. This is a good get-right game against a Packers team that was shredded by the Steelers last week and is back in their annual position of being a bottom-10 team in rushing EPA allowed.
TENNESSEE TITANS at JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Biggest Storyline: We’ll touch on Jacksonville’s offense in a moment, but I’m almost more fascinated by how Will Levis performs. Levis had shown real flashes in his first two games but struggled under consistent pressure last week against the Bucs. He was hit a whopping 13 times. Few quarterbacks can deal with that, especially rookies. Jacksonville’s defense has some impressive metrics and dedicates a ton of resources to stopping the run, so there should be windows downfield. Mike Caldwell shares a ton of defensive DNA with Bucs’ head coach Todd Bowles, which is troubling considering what we saw last week. The Titans need to see more positive signals from Levis if they’re going to walk into the offseason with him as their clear QB1.
Stat you need to know: Calvin Ridley is one of just two receivers who have faced press coverage on more than 40% of their routes, per Next Gen Stats. That has been a massive problem for Jacksonville.
Calvin Ridley's 2018 to 2021 average success rate vs. press coverage in #ReceptionPerception: 76.7%
Calvin Ridley 2023 in-season RP charting data: 64%
A lot going off course with this offense, but this has been part of the issue. https://t.co/xeJ6WjuyTd
— Matt Harmon (@MattHarmon_BYB) November 13, 2023
Ridley isn’t getting off the line as cleanly as he once was. He still looks a bit rusty and slower coming off a long layoff. However, this is on coaching. At this point, it’s malpractice to line the guy up at X-receiver almost every snap and exacerbate the issue. Ridley has been a good receiver overall but Press Taylor and co. have not been great with the deployment of this receiver room, nor does the roster have another option to toss out at X to activate Ridley elsewhere. The Titans afford a solid rebound spot because their secondary has holes but so far, this lack of movement and overall timing disruption has been the biggest hangup in Jacksonville’s pass offense.
Player in a smash spot: DeAndre Hopkins. I’ve been chasing this one for weeks, so keep that in mind. However, the Jaguars are exploitable in the secondary, allowing a 137.2 passer rating on targets lined up outside. If Levis can stand up to the rush, he can find Hopkins downfield.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS at LOS ANGELES RAMS
Biggest Storyline: Can the Seahawks offense do it again? Geno Smith is coming off his highest passing-yard performance as a Seattle Seahawk. However, it was a cakewalk matchup against the Commanders and there were still fits and starts with this offense. We need to see Smith and these receivers string together a complete game before putting them into the upper tier of passing games.
Given the schematic matchup, this is a spot where Smith will lean on Tyler Lockett:
The Rams have been in Cover 3 or 4 at the fourth-highest rate across the league.
Tyler Lockett is the clear favorite against these coverages, holding the highest target share, both of which are over 25 %.
Data: @football_sis pic.twitter.com/nFwicRyOt4
— Jordan Vanek (@JordanVanekDFS) November 17, 2023
This season, they’ve forced things too much to DK Metcalf in contested situations. The layups are available in this offense. Just have to take the throws — assuming Lockett is able to play through a hamstring injury.
Stat you need to know: Puka Nacua Weeks 1-5: 114.4 yards per game. Since Week 6: 63.8 yards per game. Matthew Stafford returned to practice coming off the bye and should be healthy. Hopefully, he will last. We aren’t likely to see Nacua put up video game numbers on the regular like he did to start the season but this is still a good environment and he’s a proven player.
Player in a smash spot: Kenneth Walker. This looks like a positive game script or at least neutral, which is the perfect outlook to chase Walker’s ceiling. Much is made of rookie Zach Charbonnet playing more snaps but it hasn’t changed Walker’s workload much, if at all. He’s held a 70% grip on the rush attempts for this team. The Rams are in the middle of the pack (16th) in rushing success rate allowed.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS at DENVER BRONCOS
Biggest Storyline: Joshua Dobbs’ continued run. There’s no question Dobbs has been a revelation and an ideal solution for the Vikings in the wake of Kirk Cousins’ injury. However, I think playing on a national stage may reveal that there have been some real fits and starts with this offense quarter to quarter in the last two games. Dobbs does his best work off script and sometimes struggles to string together consistent moments. That’s not enough for me to be too concerned about the Vikings offense going forward — just is what it is — but it’s something to note as they play in front of more eyeballs than just the NFL RedZone channel.
Stat you need to know: Russell Wilson had the highest expected completion percentage among Week 10 quarterbacks per Next Gen Stats, which is hilarious considering his touchdown throw to Courtland Sutton had the lowest completion probability in NGS history:
Russell Wilson's 7-yard touchdown pass to Courtland Sutton had a completion probability of 3.2%, the most improbable completion of the Next Gen Stats era.
🔹 Scramble Distance: 16.3 yds
🔹 Air Distance: 37.8 yds
🔹 Sideline Distance: -0.7 yds
Powered by @awscloud pic.twitter.com/1rO4I6h7aR
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 14, 2023
Wilson has been certifiably “fine” so far this season. Sean Payton has just asked him to execute the offense and manage the game. Wilson has done that and has salvaged himself from the 2022 nightmare. This will be a stiff test against a Vikings defense that throws a ton at you. Brian Flores and co. lead the league in cover-zero and blitzing.
Player in a smash spot: T.J. Hockenson. The Vikings tight end has 27 targets in the last two games and has been Dobbs’ go-to man. The Broncos defense has rebounded from the 70-point nightmare and lockdown outside corner Pat Surtain has been playing great ball. He should be locked up with Jordan Addison (with Justin Jefferson not returning this week), which would leave Hockenson to gobble up receptions.
Note: If Alexander Mattison missed this game, Ty Chandler would have gotten my smash-spot designation. Denver has still struggled to stop the run the last four games and Chandler brings more juice than anyone else has to the backfield. Keep him on your roster and see what happens even with Mattison expected to play.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS at MIAMI DOLPHINS
One reason to maybe watch: The Dolphins offense is obvious but I remain curious regarding the Antonio Pierce era with the Raiders. They’ve played a pair of cupcakes in the New York offenses the last two weeks. However, they have a clear identity as a run-first team that takes shots to Davante Adams. That’s good enough for now.
But I have no idea how they will stop Miami in the secondary.
Stat you need to know:
Miami Dolphins offensive DVOA
Wk 1-6: 37.6% (1st)
Wk 7-9: 2.2% (19th)
— Aaron Schatz 🏈 (@ASchatzNFL) November 6, 2023
The Dolphins offense has slowed down of late. There is no hiding from that reality. Most of it can be attributed to the run game hitting a stall. Whether it’s just stumbling under a heavier workload or a fluke, Raheem Mostert hasn’t been quite as explosive of late. This is a perfect time to welcome back rookie De'Von Achane. Don’t be shocked if the Dolphins roll up on the Raiders coming out of their bye.
NEW YORK GIANTS at WASHINGTON COMMANDERS
One reason to maybe watch: Sam Howell’s progress is worth tracking. Howell leads the NFL in passing yards and dropbacks. I wish they’d condense the passing tree to just the main guys, but Eric Bieniemy has this pretty spread out. That makes Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson quite volatile. Still, Howell can shred a defense that plays more man coverage than anyone else and struggles to pressure the passer consistently.
Stat you need to know: Saquon Barkley played just 61% of the snaps in Week 10 after logging 78%, 84%, 89% and 75% the four games prior. This is just one of the risks with Barkley now playing on an offense in full collapse mode.
DALLAS COWBOYS at CAROLINA PANTHERS
One reason to maybe watch: The Cowboys offense is on fire right now and CeeDee Lamb is inserting his name into the Offensive Player of the Year race. That’s allowed other guys like Brandin Cooks, Jake Ferguson and others to pop up for big games. The entire unit is better off when Lamb is featured. That’s worth watching.
No horror show on the Panthers unit has my fascination at this point. It’s just sad to watch them wither.
Stat you need to know:
Dak Prescott completed 12 of his 18 passes against man coverage for 200 yards and 3 TDs (+13.8% CPOE).
Prescott now leads the NFL in yards, TD passes, passer rating, CPOE, EPA, & success rate vs man coverage this season.#NYGvDAL | #DallasCowboys pic.twitter.com/ZJo89WULXc
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 13, 2023
Dak Prescott is on an impressive heater right now. Again, much of this comes back to Lamb’s deployment. Having him out there as the X-receiver more often allows him to be the No. 1 read in the progression and Prescott is a guy who wants to read plays outright. So, Lamb, one of my favorite route runners against man coverage, catches Prescott’s eyes faster than when he’s the slot man. It took too long to get there but the Cowboys coaching staff deserves credit for arriving at this destination.