In my eyes, the great appeal of fantasy football, aside from winning and uniting old friends through the spirit of competition, is the rush. After upsetting the Falcons in Week 10, Browns rookie Baker Mayfield said he woke up feeling “dangerous.” Whether he was channeling his inner Heisenberg or stoking the fire lit by his biggest critic, Colin Cowherd, Mayfield’s flair for peril is not lost on this thrill-seeking football writer. Fantasy is nothing if not a weekly tightrope act, a rogue, runaway train doused in kerosene. It’s a heart-pounding treasure hunt, an exhilarating, eye-grabbing spectacle with more mood swings than Kanye West. What could be better?
You want to talk tilting? Well you came to the right place. I may as well be board-certified in that subject. I could probably teach a college course on tilting after the week I just had in fantasy. Heading into Sunday night’s Eagles/Cowboys showdown on NBC (shameless plug), I was waiting for the bullet. With no one left to play and my opponent needing only 6.6 points to beat me (which is babytown frolics in PPR), my fate rested in the hands of newly-minted Eagle Golden Tate.
I just wanted Tate to put me out of my misery so I could take the L and go to sleep, but the knockout punch never came. That’s because he played just 18-of-62 offensive snaps in his Eagles debut and was barely on the field during crunch time, losing hurry-up reps to Nelson Agholor and even Jordan Matthews. In a rare display of mercy, the fantasy gods rescued me from the crushing depths of defeat and lifted me to an utterly unexpected win. Talk about twisting the knife. Not only did my opponent fall short in his pursuit of victory, but he also lost out on the weekly high score, which comes with a $10 payout in our league (not the highest stakes but a nice bonus for a job well done). And worse yet, he’s an Eagles fan! That’s a three-course meal of sadness.
Still riding the exhilarating high of Sunday night, I buckled in for another hand of football blackjack. Hit me, dealer! This time I was doing the hunting, needing 17.9 fantasy points from George Kittle (PPR of course) to hit my mark. That would be a lot to ask for most players (unless you’re Todd Gurley), but in the early juncture of Monday’s contest between the Giants and Niners, Kittle was on the prowl. The second-year tight end was cooking in the first half, nabbing five balls for a team-high 66 yards on six targets. Soon he was up to nine catches for 83 yards with more than a quarter left to play. All I needed was one more catch to slay the dragon. Finish the job, I begged, abandoning any sense of journalistic integrity as I berated the television for an hour straight.
But this time, the fantasy gods forgot about me. In fact, they were taunting me when a 14-yard catch by Kittle was negated by offensive pass interference (it was on him, of course). After only having eyes for Kittle in the first half, Nick Mullens ripped up the script, going maverick by ignoring his stud tight end down the stretch.
The 49ers lost and so did I. It was an all-time betrayal, a heel turn I never saw coming. I guess I’m still batting .500 after having Tate bail me out on Sunday night, but boy a second win would have hit the spot. I’m about tilted out, so let’s turn the page and focus on my Week 11 Power Rankings, shall we?
1. New Orleans Saints
Last Week: 1
What did the Saints do for an encore after spoiling the Rams’ undefeated season in Week 9? They went to Cincinnati and knocked the absolute stuffing out of the Bengals, lighting them up for 51 points and over 500 yards of offense. Alvin Kamara poured it on with two touchdowns, bringing his season total to 14. Even Mark Ingram got a taste, delivering season-highs in both rushing (104) and receiving yards (58) in Sunday’s onslaught. Achilles injuries are no joke but hopefully this isn’t the last we see of Dez Bryant in the NFL.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week: 2
MVP frontrunner Patrick Mahomes made more history Sunday at Arrowhead by setting a new Chiefs high-water mark with his 31st touchdown pass of the season. Third-year burner Tyreek Hill put KC back in the winner’s circle with a brilliant display in Week 10, besting shutdown corner Patrick Peterson by pulling in seven grabs for 117 yards and two touchdowns. Kansas City’s much-anticipated Week 11 showdown with the Rams was supposed to be played in Mexico City but was moved back to the states due to unsafe playing conditions at Estadio Azteca (see for yourself).
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3. Los Angeles Rams
Last Week: 3
The Rams’ season just got a bit tougher with trusted slot man Cooper Kupp (torn ACL) down for the count. Without him, the Rams will turn to Josh Reynolds in three-wide sets while affording more slot opportunities for Robert Woods. Coming off a tepid Week 9 display (at least by his usual, top-notch standards), Todd Gurley got back into the swing of things with 160 yards and a touchdown Sunday against Seattle. He’s crushed it with eight touchdowns in his last three Seahawks encounters. The L.A. Coliseum will host MNF for the first time in 33 years when the high-powered Chiefs come to town in Week 11.
4. Los Angeles Chargers
Last Week: 5
Los Angeles stayed hot by winning a freebie Sunday in Oakland. That pushed the Bolts’ winning streak to six, their longest since LaDainian Tomlinson was roaming the halls back in 2006. Keenan Allen cured his end-zone woes with a touchdown in Week 10, his first since the Chargers’ season-opening loss to Kansas City. Meanwhile Melvin Gordon stretched his touchdown streak to seven while bleeding the Raiders for 165 yards on 23 touches. Sophomore stud Desmond King has been lights out defending the slot this season, earning PFF’s No. 8 coverage mark among cornerbacks.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers
Last Week: 7
Ben Roethlisberger massacred the Panthers in Week 10, distributing touchdowns to five different receivers while achieving a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating for the fourth time in his career. Antonio Brown supplied his league-leading 10th touchdown reception in Thursday night’s win. He’s scored in every game but one this year. With Le’Veon Bell forgoing the season, James Conner should maintain his RB1 standing down the stretch, but first he’ll have to recover from a concussion. The Steelers’ 52 points against Carolina were their most ever at Heinz Field.
6. New England Patriots
Last Week: 4
The Patriots will have plenty to mull over during the bye week after tanking in Sunday’s loss to Tennessee. That one had to sting for Bill Belichick, who was coaching against ex-Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel. Remember when Chris Hogan was a trendy sleeper pick in fantasy drafts this summer? Boy those were the days. The former Penn State lacrosse standout continued his march to fantasy irrelevance with another goose egg in Week 10. The Patriots have yet to lose in Foxboro this year but are just 2-3 away from Gillette Stadium.
7. Chicago Bears
Last Week: 9
Khalil Mack trampled the Lions in his return from a two-game absence, delivering two takedowns of Matthew Stafford as Chicago extended its winning streak to three games. Allen Robinson also enjoyed a stellar return, rolling to a season-high 133 yards and two touchdowns in his first game back from a groin injury. Anthony Miller also feasted, exposing Detroit’s overmatched secondary with a five-catch, 122-yard gem in Week 10. Cody Parkey has come down with a pretty severe case of the yips. The fifth-year kicker collapsed against the Lions, missing both of his field goal tries and a pair of extra-points.
8. Minnesota Vikings
Last Week: 8
The Vikings can take back control of the NFC North with a win Sunday night in the Windy City. Minnesota’s offense, keyed by free-agent prize Kirk Cousins and ascendant receiver Adam Thielen, has received most of the attention but the Vikings wouldn’t be where they are right now without Danielle Hunter. The fourth-year hell-raiser has been a nightmare for opposing QBs, ranking second in the league with 11.5 sacks. The Vikes claimed Ameer Abdullah off waivers during the bye week, but he’ll just be a change-of-pace behind bell-cow Dalvin Cook and goal-line hammer Latavius Murray.
9. Carolina Panthers
Last Week: 6
The Panthers didn’t show up for last week’s game in Pittsburgh, except for Christian McCaffrey, who muscled his way to 138 yards and three touchdowns (one rushing, two receiving). Seven of C-Mac’s eight touchdowns this year have come in his last three games. With McCaffrey occupying a near every-down role, the Panthers decided to cut bait on C.J. Anderson, who was let go following an uneventful nine-game stint in Charlotte. Nice work, Carolina D (-9 fantasy points in Week 10).
10. Houston Texans
Last Week: 13
Winners of six straight, the surging Texans should be feeling refreshed coming off their Week 10 bye. Injuries have hampered Houston’s receiving corps this year, though it looks like rookie slot man Keke Coutee (hamstring) will be back in the fold for Sunday’s game in Washington. He’ll join lid-lifter DeAndre Hopkins and newcomer Demaryius Thomas in three-wide sets. Now a year into his recovery from a torn Achilles, 2017 third-rounder D’Onta Foreman has finally resumed practicing. When healthy, he’ll leapfrog Alfred Blue for backup duties behind starter Lamar Miller.
11. Washington Redskins
Last Week: 12
Talk about a “bend don’t break” defense. The Redskins yielded an unfathomable 501 yards of offense but only three points in Sunday’s Week 10 win over Tampa Bay. Third-year Cal product Maurice Harris has filled in admirably for injured slot man Jamison Crowder, securing 15 grabs for 176 yards over his last two contests. Alex Smith is the sugar cookie of NFL quarterbacks, but at least you know what you’re getting with him. The 34-year-old has thrown for exactly 178 yards in three of his last four games.
12. Green Bay Packers
Last Week: 16
With Randall Cobb (hamstring) sidelined and Davante Adams held in check by ace corner Xavien Howard, Aaron Jones got a chance to strut his stuff in Week 10, tormenting the Dolphins with 172 yards (145 rushing, 27 receiving) and two touchdowns. After spending the first two months in a frustrating timeshare, Jones has finally separated himself from Jamaal Williams, who was limited to three touches in Sunday’s victory. Jaire Alexander has lived up to his first-round promise. Through 10 weeks, the rookie out of Louisville holds PFF’s No. 5 coverage grade out of 112 qualifiers at cornerback.
13. Tennessee Titans
Last Week: 19
In my Titans notes this week, all I wrote was “Dion salty.” Dion Lewis had plenty to say after beating his former team on Sunday, shading the Patriots for being “cheap.” Corey Davis has been the definition of boom-or-bust this year but in Week 10, he pressed all the right buttons (7-125-1 on 10 targets). Including the postseason, Davis has scored three touchdowns in two career games against New England. Derrick Henry wore the vulture crown with two goal-line smashes in Week 10, giving the hulking 247-pounder four end-zone visits in his last three contests.
14. Philadelphia Eagles
Last Week: 10
The Eagles had the bye week to prepare for Dallas but still fell flat, wasting a season-best performance from Zach Ertz (14-145-2 on 16 targets) in a 27-20 loss. With tough games remaining against the Saints, Rams, Redskins (twice) and Texans, the defending champs are entering must-win territory. Sunday night’s loss to the hated Cowboys was a tough pill to swallow but at least the Eagles can take solace in the emergence of undrafted rookie Josh Adams, who has led the team in rushing yards each of the past two games.
15. Baltimore Ravens
Last Week: 14
We’re not sure of the Ravens’ plans at quarterback this week but with Joe Flacco’s hip barking, there’s a reasonable chance we could see Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson make his first career start against Cincinnati. After having the bye week to learn the intricacies of John Harbaugh’s offensive scheme, ex-Packer Ty Montgomery should make his Ravens debut in Week 11. Montgomery’s arrival could muddy the waters for Alex Collins, who has stumbled to just 3.7 yards per carry this year. The faltering Ravens haven’t won a game since Week 6 at Tennessee.
16. Indianapolis Colts
Last Week: 20
Eric Ebron was only on the field for 21 snaps in Week 10 (27 fewer than teammate Jack Doyle) but he made the most of his limited workload, compiling 71 yards and three touchdowns on four total touches in a win over Jacksonville. His 10 touchdowns this year (nine receiving, one rushing) are almost as many as he had in his entire Lions tenure (12 touchdowns in four seasons). It’s been Shred City for Andrew Luck, who has doled out 10 touchdown passes while producing a brilliant 72.3 completion percentage throughout the Colts’ three-game winning streak.
17. Cincinnati Bengals
Last Week: 13
The Saints ran circles around Cincy in Week 10, trouncing the slumping Bengals 51-14. In the wake of that loss, the Bengals shook up their coaching staff by firing defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and hiring failed Browns head coach Hue Jackson as a special assistant to Marvin Lewis. With go-to target A.J. Green (toe) still out of commission, a once-promising season for the Bengals has quickly gone down the drain. Receiving back Giovani Bernard didn’t make much noise in his return from a month-long absence, managing only 36 yards from scrimmage in Sunday’s defeat.
18. Seattle Seahawks
Last Week: 17
The Seahawks played the Rams tight for the second time this year, but couldn’t come up with the W in Week 10. With Chris Carson out, Rashaad Penny answered the bell with 108 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. Russell Wilson also did his fair share of scrambling on Sunday, scooting to 92 yards on eight carries. That marked Wilson’s highest rushing total since Week 10 of 2014. Rather than keeping the souvenir for himself, Tyler Lockett handed his touchdown ball to boxing legend Floyd Mayweather on Sunday.
19. Atlanta Falcons
Last Week: 15
Julio Jones touchdowns used to come as often as the Olympics but now the 29-year-old has scored in back-to-back weeks. Julio’s current pace calls for 1,849 receiving yards, which would be the third-highest total in NFL history. Austin Hooper kept the chains moving with a stout effort against Cleveland, racking up a career-high 10 grabs for 56 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s defeat. Among tight ends, only the holy triumvirate of Zach Ertz, Travis Kelce and George Kittle have caught more balls than Hooper this year.
20. Dallas Cowboys
Last Week: 23
Ezekiel Elliott turned on the jets in Week 10, rumbling to 187 yards (151 rushing, 36 receiving) and two touchdowns as Dallas stole a win on Philadelphia’s home turf. Filling in for an injured Sean Lee, rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch lived up to his first-round billing with an interception and a game-saving tackle in Sunday night’s victory. Dak Prescott also put his best foot forward in Week 10, completing a season-high 72.2 percent of his passes while rushing for his third touchdown in four games. Did I mention Byron Jones holds PFF’s No. 2 coverage grade among cornerbacks this year? Well now I did.
21. Miami Dolphins
Last Week: 18
Brock Osweiler at Lambeau Field feels like a recipe for disaster. And it was! The Packers buried him alive, sacking Osweiler six times while also forcing two turnovers (one interception, one lost fumble). At least one Dolphin enjoyed his visit to cheese country—battle-hardened veteran Frank Gore ran amok on Green Bay, blasting the Packers for 102 yards (90 rushing, 12 receiving) while out-touching teammate Kenyan Drake 15-10. Gore’s 14 seasons of at least 500 rushing yards are an NFL record.
22. Denver Broncos
Last Week: 24
After having the bye week to rest his injured ankle, first-year bowling ball Royce Freeman will be back at it against the Chargers in Week 11. That puts a damper on Phillip Lindsay’s fantasy outlook, though the impressive rookie still warrants attention as an RB2 in most formats. Now that Demaryius Thomas has left the nest, Emmanuel Sanders is back to being the top dog in Denver’s pass-catching corps. He’s on pace for 1,257 receiving yards, which would be his most since 2014.
23. Cleveland Browns
Last Week: 27
Baker Mayfield said he was feeling dangerous in Sunday’s win over Atlanta but the real difference-maker was first-year pile-pusher Nick Chubb, who blew the Falcons to smithereens with a dominating 209-yard masterpiece in Week 10. Chubb’s 92-yard touchdown dash stands as the longest rushing play in team history. David Njoku flirted with TE1 status early on in 2018 but he’s quickly fallen off the map, stumbling to just five catches for 71 scoreless yards over his last three games. If the Browns are looking for an outside-the-box hire to replace departed head coach Hue Jackson, may I suggest Solar Dog?
24. Jacksonville Jaguars
Last Week: 21
The Jaguars threw Leonard Fournette to the wolves in Week 10, feeding their workhorse an exhausting 29 touches in his return from a hamstring injury. Fournette spent most of the afternoon running into brick walls (2.2 yards per carry) but salvaged the day for fantasy owners by punching in a pair of goal-line touchdowns. A late-round favorite in fantasy leagues this summer, Keelan Cole has underachieved, totaling just four catches for 39 yards over his last three games. A loss to the Steelers—who the Jaguars defeated twice last season—would stretch Jacksonville’s losing streak to six.
25. Detroit Lions
Last Week: 22
Detroit’s non-existent offensive line has turned Matthew Stafford into a crash-test dummy, allowing an unacceptable 16 sacks over the past two games. The Lions were hoping to benefit from LeGarrette Blount’s veteran presence but instead the fading power back has circled the drain by contributing just 15 yards on 14 carries (1.07 yards per attempt) over his last three games. Darius Slay’s absence was felt in Sunday’s loss to Chicago as Mitchell Trubisky took a sledgehammer to the Lions’ secondary, torching Detroit for 355 yards and four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing).
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last Week: 25
On a day when Tampa Bay scored just three points, Ryan Fitzpatrick somehow threw for 406 passing yards and get this—that was only his third-highest yardage total of 2018. Jacquizz Rodgers reintroduced himself to PPR owners with a banner day in Week 10, totaling 102 yards on eight catches in a loss to Washington. Chris Godwin also did his part, reeling in all seven of his targets for 103 yards, his most since last year’s season finale against New Orleans. Dirk Koetter’s decision to take over play-calling duties from OC Todd Monken wreaks of desperation. It will be a surprise if he survives Black Monday.
27. Buffalo Bills
Last Week: 31
Matt Barkley was electric in his first start since 2016, ripping the Jets for 232 yards and two touchdowns on 15-of-25 passing. LeSean McCoy finally put it all together on Sunday, stampeding his way to a season-high 113 rushing yards. That’s more than he had in his previous four games combined. A college underachiever at Alabama, undrafted rookie Robert Foster sent shockwaves through the fantasy-sphere with his out-of-nowhere breakout in Week 10 (three grabs for 105 yards). Zay Jones also brought his A game to East Rutherford, turning eight catches into a career-high 93 yards and a touchdown.
28. New York Giants
Last Week: 30
With his job security at an all-time low, Eli Manning went out and had one of his better games of the season on Monday night, slinging three touchdowns in a come-from-behind win over San Francisco. Sterling Shepard put the Niners to bed with a go-ahead touchdown in the final minute, closing the curtain on New York’s five-game losing skid. After going the first 30 games of his career without an interception, linebacker B.J. Goodson picked off Nick Mullens twice in the Giants’ Week 10 victory.
29. New York Jets
Last Week: 26
While you were eating nachos at Buffalo Wild Wings on Sunday, Josh McCown was busy getting flattened by the Bills’ defense. Filling in for an injured (well that’s debatable) Sam Darnold, the 39-year-old was about as useful as the Blockbuster card in your wallet, completing a dreadful 17-of-34 passes for 135 yards and two interceptions in a humiliating 31-point loss to Buffalo. Todd Bowles somehow survived Sunday’s wreckage, but if the Jets don’t show noticeable improvement down the stretch, it could be curtains for Bowles in East Rutherford.
30. Arizona Cardinals
Last Week: 29
Feeding your best player seems like a pretty airtight plan, but the Cardinals’ previous offensive coordinator, Mike McCoy, couldn’t seem to grasp that concept. But Byron Leftwich can, and now he’s ready to unleash the beast. David Johnson finally broke out in Week 10, soaking up 183 yards and two touchdowns in a loss to Kansas City. Now that he’s being used correctly, DJ can be safely reinserted as an RB1 in all fantasy lineups. After passing Terrell Owens for second on the NFL’s all-time receiving yards list, Larry Fitzgerald only has one man left to beat: Jerry Rice.
31. San Francisco 49ers
Last Week: 28
They say the sequel is never as good as the original. That proved true Monday night as Nick Mullens followed up his gang-busters debut with a shaky Week 10, throwing the first two interceptions of his career in a loss to the Giants. No longer splitting reps with Raheem Mostert, Matt Breida took full advantage of his newfound freedom on Monday night, grinding his way to 132 yards and two touchdowns on a season-high 20 touches. George Kittle’s 775 receiving yards are the most by a Niners tight end since Vernon Davis cashed in with 850 in 2013.
32. Oakland Raiders
Last Week: 32
To the surprise of literally no one, Oakland’s offense has completely unraveled without Amari Cooper, cobbling together a combined nine points in losses to the Niners and Chargers the past two weeks. Jordy Nelson’s tank was already running on empty when he arrived in Oakland, but now his car won’t even start. He’s bottomed out over his last four games, contributing a paltry five catches for 36 yards during that span. Even 32nd feels too generous a ranking for Jon Gruden’s failed lab experiment.
Biggest Jump: Titans
Biggest Drop: Bengals, Eagles, Falcons