Dallas Cowboys @ Minnesota Vikings
Dak Prescott played extremely well and two Dallas RBs finished as top-10 fantasy backs during a Cowboys blowout. The Vikings were exposed, entering the game as the first 8-1 team ever with a negative DVOA and averaging this abysmal fourth-quarter point differential this season:
— Luke Braun (@LukeBraunNFL) November 17, 2022
Few quarterbacks in the league struggle more when pressured than Kirk Cousins, so a bad matchup turned ugly when left tackle Christian Darrisaw exited early with a concussion. Cousins took a career-high seven sacks and finished with just 105 passing yards as a result. Meanwhile, Prescott got 11.0 YPA and was perfect on throws downfield and on those without pressure. He was a top-10 fantasy QB this week despite attempting just one pass for eight yards in the fourth quarter.
Tony Pollard was fantastic, totaling 189 yards from scrimmage with two TD catches while leading Dallas in targets. He finished as the week’s No. 1 fantasy RB despite losing two touchdowns to the returning Ezekiel Elliott, who finished with half as many rushing yards in the same number of carries.
Pollard leads the NFL in YPC, YPC after contact and yards per touch. He's scored six touchdowns over the last three weeks while surpassing 15 carries just once. Pollard saw the highest snap percentage of his career when sharing the field with Elliott, and he’s going to see at least 15 touches moving forward regardless of Zeke’s health.
Given his situation and talent, Pollard should be considered a top-10 fantasy back now. Dallas gets four of its next five games at home, with the other against the Jaguars.
Justin Jefferson was off to a historic start to the season but was held to just 33 scoreless yards Sunday. He looked fine and was likely just the victim of a disastrous offensive performance by Minnesota. But it may be worth noting Jay Glazer casually reported that Jefferson is dealing with “turf toe” before kickoff Sunday morning. Just something to monitor.
Brett Maher scored the second-most fantasy points by a kicker ever and was forced to make a 60-yarder twice after the booth was slow to review this terrific catch by CeeDee Lamb. Maher is now 4-for-4 on 60+ yard field goal tries during his career … The Cowboys are the only defense yet to allow a touchdown in the first quarter this season; they look as dangerous as any team in football right now.
Chicago Bears @ Atlanta Falcons
Justin Fields had nearly as many carries (18) as pass attempts (21) in another highly productive fantasy performance. The Fields experience has been a wild ride lately, including the QB averaging 106.7 rushing yards over the last five games. Fields won’t be able to sustain this crazy amount of running (he left Sunday’s game on a cart tending to his left shoulder), but he’s a manager's dream and the top weekly fantasy quarterback with this kind of usage in the meantime.
In other words, ride him in DFS until the wheels come off (if they haven’t already).
Kyle Pitts left injured, but early indications suggest no ligament damage. It would be a boost to Drake London’s fantasy value should Pitts miss time, but the rookie wideout finished Sunday’s win with one catch for two yards (a touchdown, admittedly) in a game Atlanta scored 27 points ... Cordarrelle Patterson set the record for most kickoff-return touchdowns (nine) in NFL history … Cole Kmet’s TD streak ended, but he pulled down a nice one-handed catch ... David Montgomery was a true workhorse and finished as a top-10 RB during his first game without Khalil Herbert this season.
Carolina Panthers @ Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens were easily the biggest favorites (-13.5 points) of the week, but this game was 3-3 midway through the fourth quarter. Lamar Jackson had his first rushing TD since Week 3, but he’s failed to surpass 6.6 YPA in six of his past seven games. Mark Andrews returned, and DeMarcus Robinson emerged as the team’s new WR1 (available in 95% of Yahoo leagues), but it was a concerning performance from a shaky Baltimore offense … Kenyan Drake nearly scored but ultimately disappointed with Gus Edwards out. Drake dropped a screen with a ton of room in front of him and continues to have massive turf/grass splits in his career … D’Onta Foreman was shut down in a tough matchup but continued to act as Carolina’s clear lead back.
Unfortunately, the Panthers schedule doesn’t ease up any time soon (Den, Bye, @Sea, Pitt). Good luck to Baker Mayfield.
Cleveland Browns @ Buffalo Bills (in Detroit)
Josh Allen had his worst fantasy game of the season despite Buffalo coming off back-to-back losses and playing indoors versus a Cleveland defense allowing the second-most EPA/play this season. In fairness, Allen is playing through a UCL injury, and the Bills had a messed-up practice/travel week while dealing with an epic snowstorm. Expect a big bounce-back performance from Allen on Thanksgiving … Stefon Diggs wasn’t targeted until 20 seconds were left in the first half, but he pulled it down for a score. Buffalo also attempted its first two-point try of the season Sunday … Amari Cooper bucked his trend with a huge game on the road, while Donovan Peoples-Jones continued to perform well away from home while helping secure a Browns backdoor cover … Jacoby Brissett finished as fantasy’s No. 3 QB this week despite losing his center on the first play of the game against a Buffalo defense that entered first in DVOA. They also came in allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to QBs this season.
Washington Commanders @ Houston Texans
Davis Mills struggled mightily while harassed by Washington’s pass rush all game, as even playing at home couldn’t save him Sunday (sadly, The Detective looks destined for a backup role soon). The Commanders lead the NFL in quarterback hits and will be getting Chase Young back soon … Dameon Pierce was shut down by one of the league’s best run defenses, including getting body slammed on his head.
Speaking of being unconscious, Joey Slye is 7-for-7 kicking field goals over the last two weeks … Neither Brian Robinson nor Antonio Gibson erupted as hoped against an awful Houston run defense, but the Commanders were traveling during a short week coming off one of the biggest upsets of the season. Taylor Heinicke was fortunate Texans rookie cornerback Jalen Pitre dropped two separate interception chances in the first quarter.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Indianapolis Colts
Jalen Hurts was a top-five fantasy QB again this week while throwing for just 190 yards and one score, as he led all QBs with 86 rushing yards (and a TD run) … Jonathan Taylor looked dominant during Indy’s opening drive but was held in check afterward, as the Eagles were determined to improve their run defense with Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh also both recording (half) sacks in their Philly debuts. Taylor lost a fumble in the fourth quarter, although AJ Brown returned the favor shortly thereafter … Miles Sanders had a quiet fantasy game but drew a crucial 39-yard pass interference penalty late in the fourth quarter, while the refs may have later missed a face mask when Matt Ryan was sacked on third-and-goal … Parris Campbell had finished as a top-12 PPR WR in each of his past three games with Matt Ryan and was facing an Eagles secondary starting their backup slot corner, but it resulted in a more modest top-25 finish this week … Props to Jeff Saturday, who nearly pulled off yet another upset against an Eagles team coming off a loss in primetime (admittedly while traveling during a short week).
New York Jets @ New England Patriots
The Jets entered undefeated on the road this season but left losers of 14 straight games to the Patriots after being held to -21 passing yards in the second half. New York averaged an anemic 2.1 yards per play and had more punts (10) than completions (nine). Zach Wilson predictably struggled with accuracy against a New England defense that excels at pressuring the QB, and questions about the team’s future at the position are getting louder. I’d grab Magic Mike White in all deeper Superflex leagues right now. The loss of Breece Hall hurts especially bad considering how much the Jets are hiding their quarterback (Wilson’s -22.4 CPOE was in the 2nd percentile).
Rhamondre Stevenson is such a beast ... New England won thanks to the first punt return touchdown of the 2022 season with five seconds left. The league saw twice as many touchdowns during kick returns (two) Sunday as previously combined all season.
Los Angeles Rams @ New Orleans Saints
Matthew Stafford left with concussion issues for the second straight week, so it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising if we don’t see him again during a lost Rams season. It’s a situation to avoid altogether in fantasy over the rest of 2022 … TuTu Atwell scored the first touchdown of his career, while Chris Olave also secured a 50+ yard TD grab … Andy Dalton was nearly a top-five fantasy QB this week, outscoring Dak Prescott, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen (among many others) despite three starters missing from New Orleans’ offensive line.
Detroit Lions @ New York Giants
Daniel Jones was a top-five fantasy QB this week while rushing for more than twice as many yards as Saquon Barkley. Barkley lost a goal-line TD to Matt Breida and sat out stretches late, but hopefully, that was only for rest in a lopsided game and with the Giants playing on Thanksgiving. The Lions continue to defend the run much better since the team’s bye but remain a goldmine for opposing fantasy QBs … Wan’Dale Robinson saw 13 targets but suffered a potentially serious knee injury. Darius Slayton looks like a weekly top-25 WR moving forward as a result … Amon-Ra St. Brown was tackled at the one-yard line for the second straight week, while Jamaal Williams scored three more touchdowns for an NFL-leading 12 this season. Williams lost another goal-line TD late to D’Andre Swift and didn’t see a target for the third straight game but was a top-five RB this week anyway.
It doesn’t matter if Williams is touchdown-dependent if he hits pay dirt seemingly every week.
Las Vegas Raiders @ Denver Broncos
Russell Wilson failed to finish as a top-15 fantasy QB while facing a Raiders defense that entered allowing a higher Passer Rating this season than Patrick Mahomes’ career mark. He didn’t even reach 250 yards or throw a touchdown. The Broncos didn’t score 17 points for the eighth time this season in a game Nathaniel Hackett turned over playcalling duties to Klint Kubiak. Denver blew yet another late lead thanks in part to a completely blown coverage in overtime. Broncos Nation, let’s hide!
Daniel Carlson had the third-longest streak of made goals in NFL history (41) before finally missing Sunday, as a nine-minute Raiders drive went scoreless … Kendall Hinton was tackled at the 1, leading to a short score by Latavius Murray; he’s the preferred Denver fantasy RB moving forward.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Joe Burrow overcame the absence of Ja’Marr Chase, the loss of Joe Mixon and his sixth pick against Pittsburgh this season (compared to just two versus the rest of the league) to throw for 350+ yards (9.1 YPA) and four touchdowns. He finished as fantasy’s No. 2 QB this week. Burrow reached 10,000 career passing yards Sunday in the fewest games in NFL history, and he’s expected to get Chase back soon. The Bengals previously had been 0-8 when Burrow committed two or more turnovers.
TJ Watt pulled down an incredible interception, while Samaje Perine caught three touchdowns and was fantasy’s No. 2 RB this week. Perine is available in more than 90% of Yahoo leagues and is worth your max free-agent bid, pending Mixon’s prognosis … Jaylen Warren also left with a hamstring injury, helping Najee Harris finish as fantasy’s No. 3 RB this week. He’s recorded 20 carries in back-to-back games and has looked noticeably better recently, including during a 19-yard TD run Sunday that marked Pittsburgh’s longest score of the season … Kenny Pickett missed a wide-open George Pickens alone in the end zone but the wideout would later score during the same drive on the first 10+ yard TD pass by the Steelers this season. Pickens also dropped a would-be 49-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter but has clearly surpassed teammate Diontae Johnson as the preferred fantasy option here moving forward.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Los Angeles Chargers
Patrick Mahomes was the top-scoring fantasy QB this week despite Kansas City missing JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman. Kadarius Toney also (sadly!) left Sunday night before recording a catch. Mahomes entered with the most passing yards of his career through nine games despite losing Tyreek Hill, and he’s now won 24 straight games in November and December. He's never lost on the road to a divisional opponent during his career.
When it comes to the NFL’s most valuable player, it’s Mahomes and then everyone else for the foreseeable future.
Justin Herbert took a career-high five sacks but got a season-high 9.3 YPA with reinforcements back. Keenan Allen was in-and-out of the lineup during his return, making up for a lost fourth-quarter fumble with a tremendous catch ... Mike Williams joined Toney and Clyde Edwards-Helaire in leaving injured Sunday night, as Williams’ high-ankle sprain is going to remain a problem for the rest of the season. Isiah Pacheco has become a weekly fantasy starter as KC’s new feature back, while Travis Kelce leads the NFL in touchdown catches after recording three more Sunday night, including the game-winner late.
I’m beginning to think I shouldn’t have ranked Kyle Pitts higher among fantasy tight ends this year.