Fantasy football highs and lows from NFL Week 11: Cam Newton, Jonathan Taylor light up the scoreboard

Video cam newton week 11

Week 11 of the NFL was highlighted by Jonathan Taylor’s five touchdowns, Josh Allen’s struggles and Cam Newton’s impressive performance in his first start in Carolina since the 2019 season.

How should fantasy football managers react? Matt Bowen and Tristan H. Cockcroft offer their takes.

Cam Newton a QB1 going forward?

With 25.88 fantasy points in his first start for the Carolina Panthers this season, I think there’s something here with Newton and the playcalling of offensive coordinator Joe Brady. We can look at Newton’s first touchdown pass in the loss to Washington. That’s a run-pass option concept – with the threat of Cam as a runner influencing the defense. The toss to RB Christian McCaffrey for six? That’s called “All-Go, H Seam.” And it created an open window for Cam to rip that ball up the numbers. Plus, let’s not forget about the rushing totals, as Newton posted 48 yards and another score (on 10 carries). So, what’s up next for Cam? A Week 12 game against Miami. Then the bye week, with Atlanta and Buffalo in Weeks 14 and 15. Now, my guy Tristan doesn’t love the Week 15 game versus that Bills defense (and he’s going to write about it below). But if you are in a 12- or 14-team league, yeah, I’m good with Cam as a QB1 – in all of those matchups. Bet on the dual-threat ability of Newton here in an offense that will cater to his physical tools. – Bowen

I agree, Matt, Newton is a definite weekly starting option in a 12- or 14-team league, with the big takeaway for me this week that the Panthers are clearly looking at him as their starting, every-down quarterback rather than P.J. Walker’s partner – Newton played all 49 offensive snaps. Two problems, though: First, one solid fantasy point total against a Washington defense that has massively disappointed this season hardly convinces me that he’s a consistent, trustworthy option on his pass attempts. Newton attempted 27 of them, many of those late in the game while playing catch-up (13 in the fourth quarter, to be exact), and he’ll probably find success much more fleeting against a Dolphins secondary that looks much better on paper than its numbers, then the Bills, and after that the Buccaneers (twice, in Weeks 16 and 18) and Saints (Week 17). I’m concerned about volatile weekly outputs, his rushing prowess elevating his floor into the weekly top 15-20 but his ceiling falling short of better passers and/or those facing softer defenses.

The second issue: ESPN’s is a 10-team system, not 12 or 14, and that raises the bar for what’s a reliable fantasy starter. I wouldn’t even consider him in that Bills game in our format, at least not without more scouting of his throws next week and probably in Week 14. It’s a big step forward, yes, but I’m not totally there yet. – Cockcroft

RB Jonathan Taylor is fantasy’s top player

Fantasy’s most valuable individual player – at least in this columnist’s opinion – reached the 50-point PPR plateau for the first time in his career, scoring five total touchdowns for a career-best 53.4 points. Only 10 running backs since the merger have managed more in a game, most recently Alvin Kamara (59.5) on Christmas Day in 2020. But here’s what was most remarkable about Taylor’s performance: Entering the day, the Buffalo Bills had afforded opposing running backs just 17.3 PPR fantasy points per game, meaning that Taylor alone more than tripled that score. The Indianapolis Colts running back a completely matchup-proof performer, and the only even remote knock on his fantasy appeal the remainder of this year is that his Colts have their bye in Week 14, which is our traditional regular-season finale. – Cockcroft

  New Patriots QB Cam Newton honors Chadwick Boseman with touchdown salute

Tristan, right now, Jonathan Taylor can simply take over football games. That’s the level he is playing at. And behind that offensive line in Indianapolis, Taylor will continue to see daylight. – Bowen

QB Josh Allen’s struggles are officially a concern

While the 16.16 fantasy points he totaled on Sunday might not speak it, the performance behind it was disconcerting, to say the least. Allen managed more than half of those points (8.56, to be exact) in the final quarter, effectively garbage-time production for the Bills, and he was intercepted twice for the second time in the past three weeks. That he has averaged just 15.6 fantasy points while totaling five interceptions facing what wasn’t an extremely difficult portion of his schedule from a matchups perspective during that three-week span is ominous, considering he’ll now face the Saints (Week 12) and Patriots twice (Week 13 and 16) in the next five weeks, with the remaining two games against a better-than-expected Panthers defense (Week 14) and much-improved Buccaneers defense (Week 15). Allen’s mobility makes him much too valuable to bench, matchups be damned, but the Bills’ lack of a quality running game is clearly making things more difficult for the quarterback. There is a very real possibility that you’ll find a stronger choice for those tough upcoming matchups, or if not have his next disappointing performance in them sink your team on the fantasy scoreboard. – Cockcroft

WR Justin Jefferson’s high ceiling

Jefferson is a star. That’s how I see it. With 37.2 PPR points (season high) in the Week 11 win over the Packers, Jefferson is playing at another level right now. It’s the schemed (or defined) throws for QB Kirk Cousins in this Minnesota Vikings system that create open voids for Jefferson at the second and third level. Plus, Jefferson is winning the one-on-ones, too. He has now posted back-to-back games with over 100 yards receiving and at least 10 targets. The production is for real; the volume is jumping, too. And with matchups versus the 49ers and Lions over the next two weeks, you can lock in Jefferson as a mid-tier WR1. – Bowen

No doubt about it, Matt, Jefferson is a locked-in WR1. Here’s what struck me about this performance: He did it against a Packers defense that, despite injuries to a few key players, entered the week having allowed the sixth-fewest total PPR fantasy points and fourth-fewest schedule adjusted points to wide receivers. Jefferson’s performance was one of the many that went against the on-paper matchups – Jonathan Taylor was another – and I agree that it speaks to his overwhelming talent. – Cockcroft

Quick hitters

Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers: After a pretty quiet Monday night in the Week 10 win over the Rams, which was dictated by an extremely run-heavy 49ers game plan (44 rushing attempts), the wide receiver posted 21.5 PPR points during Sunday’s game at Jacksonville. Remember, Aiyuk has now seen at least seven targets in three of his past four games. And let’s think about the 49ers’ pass game here with Jimmy Garoppolo. It’s the quick throws out of the shotgun that play to Aiyuk’s immediate burst after the catch, plus the schemed play-action throws. My point here: I expect the volume to remain pretty consistent. And that puts Aiyuk right in the WR3 mix for the Week 12 game versus the Vikings’ defense. – Bowen

  Tour Divide

D’Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions: He set a personal best with his 9.7 yards per rushing attempt, turning his 17 touches into 22.6 PPR fantasy points, the fifth time this season he has reached the 20-point plateau. While Swift’s 2021 has been mostly about his receiving prowess, he has done some very impressive things with his legs these past two weeks. He proved his ability to absorb a hefty workload with his 33 carries of Week 10, and he showed good speed in this game, most especially on his 57-yard, third-quarter touchdown run but also exceeding 15 mph on four separate runs. Swift was a dominant force during the game’s second half, and the performance bodes quite well for him maintaining near-weekly-RB1 value from this point forward. – Cockcroft

Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers: Samuel scored 16.4 PPR points in the Week 11 game at Jacksonville, but it was the rushing totals here. On a day when he logged just one reception (on two targets) for 15 yards, he carried the ball eight times for 79 yards and a score. With his urgent play style, plus the ball carrier vision, Samuel has the physical makeup to carry the ball out of the backfield (13 carries in his past two games). Now, if running back Elijah Mitchell is up next week, then the rush volume for Deebo could dip. But we are seeing just how versatile he can be in coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense. And with a matchup versus the Vikings in Week 12, Samuel will again be in the WR1 mix for me. – Bowen

Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys: The 2.64 fantasy points Dak put up against the Chiefs’ defense was the third-lowest scoring output of his career. And he missed some throws. But I’m not going to put everything on the quarterback in this one. Amari Cooper wasn’t in the lineup. The pass protection was shaky at best. We saw some drops out there, right? CeeDee Lamb left the game at the half with a head injury, too. That’s tough. Prescott gets the Raiders in Week 12 on Thanksgiving. Cooper will still be out. And we’ll see on Lamb. But I like Dak here on a bounce-back game versus the Raiders’ zone-heavy defense. – Bowen

Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks: We can’t sign off on starting Wilson right now (even in deeper leagues). With 8.48 fantasy points in the Week 11 loss to the Cardinals, Wilson has now failed to post over 10 fantasy points, or throw a touchdown pass, in his first two games back from a finger injury on his throwing hand. This Seattle pass game looks disjointed right now. It lacks rhythm and timing, and Wilson has completed less than 55% of his passes in both games. – Bowen

Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals: For the fourth time in his past five games, Mixon scored 20-plus PPR fantasy points, his 24.3 giving him 115.6 since Week 6, which is second most in the league behind only Taylor’s 180.0. Mixon carried the football a whopping 30 times, matching the career high he set in Week 10 of 2019, which was plenty to wallop what has been a bad Raiders run defense. That he was able to handle such a hefty workload is extremely encouraging with nothing but below-average matchups over the upcoming month, especially in light of his showing excellent speed in this game, with NFL Next Gen Stats registering him with eight runs clocked at 15-plus mph. Mixon should see enough work while delivering low-end RB1 numbers moving forward. – Cockcroft

  NCAAF

Elijah Moore, WR, New York Jets: Rostered in just 59.3% of ESPN leagues, Moore posted season highs of 29.5 PPR points, 11 targets and eight receptions in Sunday’s game versus the Dolphins’ defense. And Moore can play now. He has a physical element to his game. The vertical juice is there, too. Plus, he can be schemed off alignment or movement to get free access off the ball. Sure, I’m not sold on the Jets’ quarterbacks here. And the upcoming matchups versus Houston, Philadelphia and New Orleans are tougher. However, given the skill set of the rookie, and how he can be deployed, Moore is a weekly WR3 for me moving forward. – Bowen

Darnell Mooney, WR, Chicago Bears: On a day when Allen Robinson II was absent – he was inactive because of a hamstring injury – Mooney set personal bests with 16 targets and 23.1 PPR fantasy points. Mooney made an immediate impact once QB Andy Dalton entered the game for the injured Justin Fields, catching a screen pass and scampering 60 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter, but let’s be honest, Mooney had been outplaying Robinson even when the latter was healthy and even when Fields was the one throwing him the football. In his past five games, Mooney has seen 44 targets and scored 77.1 PPR fantasy points, establishing himself as a viable weekly WR3. He’ll next face the Lions, a great matchup that might even vault him into the WR2 class in the rankings, or better if Robinson sits again. – Cockcroft

Zach Ertz, TE, Arizona Cardinals: For the first time since Week 14 of 2019, when he was with the Eagles, Ertz reached the 25-point PPR plateau, his 28.8 points easily leading his position heading into Sunday Night Football. He was regularly sought out by QB Colt McCoy, seeing nine targets, and especially so in the red zone, as both of his touchdown receptions were short throws for scores. QB Kyler Murray’s health has a bearing on Ertz’s utility in fantasy going forward, but this performance was a positive for Ertz, considering he hadn’t done much with McCoy in the latter’s prior fill-in starts, while Murray did seem to look in Ertz’s direction a fair share before getting hurt. The Cardinals now have their bye, so you’ll need to look elsewhere for a tight end for Week 12, but Ertz should be able to vie for TE1 numbers the remainder of the year. – Cockcroft