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Zach Wilson On The Brink

Zach Wilson

Zach Wilson

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It was a silly question, to be frank. A reporter asked Zach Wilson if he felt like he left his defense down in New England, as if he is supposed to get down on his knees and beg for his teammates’ forgiveness in front of the media.

It was a worse answer. Wilson may have not wanted to play the dog-and-pony show after a devastating loss — one where his “offense” generated two net yards after halftime — but his curt “no” isn’t going to make anybody happy. The fans are raving. The reporters are sharpening their knives. And his teammates are watching. The dreaded “sources” told SNY Wilson was “walking around after the game ‘like he isn’t the problem,’” and that it “rubbed more than a few the wrong way.” Garrett Wilson cryptically called for a “wake-up (call) for some people in the facility.”

The lack of accountability in front of the media is one thing. Wilson’s teammates might understand if he were simply perturbed in front of the press. But in the locker room? After that start? Wilson can still afford to lose some games. He can’t afford to lose his teammates. That is when the former becomes untenable.

Wilson’s career isn’t quite yet dead in the ditch. His recent four-game stretch of unspeakable play has come against genuinely elite defenses. The Pats, whom Wilson has faced twice in four weeks, are ranked first in defensive EPA. The Broncos are second. The Bills, whom the Jets beat, are 10th. He’s also missing key pieces of his supporting cast. The scaffolding that was going up against Wilson had to be abruptly torn down when Breece Hall tore his ACL. Corey Davis (knee) isn’t playing. Elijah Moore is checking out.

But there is no real excuse for completing just 55.6 percent of your passes as a second-year starter, or generating four passing scores in seven games. Joe Flacco or Mike White could do better than that. With the Jets at 6-4 but fourth in the division, the pressure to indeed let Flacco or White do better than that will only intensify, especially if Wilson can’t take care of his cushy Week 12 matchup in the Bears. The egg timer is nearing zero.

Five Week 11 Storylines

Justin Fields finally buckles under the strain of putting the Bears’ entire offense on his back. First, it was Fields’ hamstrings that were barking. Then, it was his shoulder that was ailing. Neither issue forced Fields to miss a snap, though he admitted to being in great pain afterward. The shoulder ailment is to Fields’ non-throwing arm, meaning even if proved to be something more than minor, the second-year pro might play through it. Of course, it would make life more harrowing as a running quarterback. It was a run-and-slide that earned Fields the pop that injured him. There is a strong chance we have seen Fields’ high-water mark this season. Considering the heights he has reached, there would be no shame in that. If Fields stays on the field for Week 12 and beyond, he will be facing a brutal schedule, beginning with this week’s date at the Jets.

Tony Pollard survives Ezekiel Elliott‘s return for career day. Is there anything more Ezekiel Elliott than averaging 2.8 yards per carry in a game his team won 40-3? As it turns out, there is: Doing so while scoring a pair of one-yard touchdowns. Had you told Pollard managers that before the game, the conniption fit would have been immediate and long-lasting. Instead, the backfield was more than big enough for the two of them, with Pollard generating 189 yards from scrimmage, including 6/109/2 through the air. Pollard scored from 30 and 68 yards out, going untouched on both plays. Huge, though the bigger number was probably 21-16. That was Pollard’s touch advantage. Even in game script that called for thunder, Pollard’s lightning won both the touch and production wars. That won’t be the case every week going forward, but this script has been flipped. Pollard is the 1A, Zeke the 1B.

Kadarius Toney and Mike Williams greet the blue tent like an old friend. With JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion) and Mecole Hardman (abdomen) injured, Toney’s time was now … to get re-injured. The troublesome hamstrings that punched his ticket out of New York made it one target in Los Angeles. Square one, we’re right back at ya. Williams fared only slightly better, catching one pass before enduring the one certainty of a high-ankle sprain: An aggravation. Williams’ re-injury had the looks more of a temporary setback than long-term issue, but even “temporary” can mean several more weeks in the ankle’s case. A return trip to injured reserve is unlikely since it would functionally end Williams’ season, but he is on the wrong side of questionable for Week 12 against the Cardinals. As for Toney, believe he is back when you see it.

Matthew Stafford suffers second head injury in three weeks as the final pillar of the Rams’ title defense crumbles. Playing without Cooper Kupp, Stafford actually managed to generate two passing scores for the first time since Week 2, but he ended up completing just 11 passes before re-entering the concussion protocol. Afterward, coach Sean McVay pledged to be “smart” with his quarterback’s health. Although they are sitting at 3-7 with Kupp out at least three more games, the Rams have less incentive than most to close up shop on the season. That’s because the Lions own their first-round pick. They also maintain an outside playoff shot in the up-for-grabs NFC. It’s just hard to see this faded squad pushing the envelope in the year of the Tua Tagovailoa controversy. At the very least, we would expect Stafford to sit for Week 12 against the Chiefs.

George Pickens finally out-targets Diontae Johnson. Sure, it was only 6-5, but Pickens, unsurprisingly out-produced the empty-volume king, ripping gains of 33 and 24 yards, the latter of which went down as the longest Steelers touchdown of the season. Kenny Pickett was actually giving Pickens the chance to make plays down the field, and he obliged. Already established as a WR3, Pickens is now making a move on WR2 status. He can be considered safely ahead of Johnson, who seems to have no YAC — or let’s be real, dawg — to his game. The Colts are a tougher Week 12 matchup before a soft Week 13 date with the Falcons.

Don’t forget, for the latest on everything NFL, check out Rotoworld’s Player News, or follow @NBCSEdgeFB or @RotoPat on Twitter.

Five More Week 11 Storylines

Wan’Dale Robinson has breakout game, suffers season-ending knee injury. It was that kind of rookie campaign for second-rounder Robinson, who appeared in just 6-of-10 contests. Before Sunday, he had yet to better 50 yards and had caught more than three balls only once. He was sitting on 9/100 when he headed to the locker room in the fourth quarter. His injury robs fantasy managers of a potential stretch-run asset and leaves the Giants disastrously short on wide receiver bodies. It also makes Daniel Jones’ job that much harder as he tries to dual-threat the G-Men into a surprise playoff berth. There is no next man up in this receiver corps, though Darius Slayton is the closest thing.

Kyle Pitts walks off under own power after knee injury. A bad year almost got that much worse. With his leg planted following a catch over the middle of the field, Pitts took a shoulder to his knee. He remained down for several moments before popping up to some knee-highs. Crisis averted, though Pitts eventually ended up making his way slowly to the locker room. He did not return, though it sounds like he will return. Early reports have Pitts avoiding any torn ligaments as he deals with a sprained MCL. Pitts should play again soon, perhaps even in Week 12, but fantasy managers know that’s not all it is cracked up to be. If Pitts suits up this week, it will be vs. a Commanders defense permitting the fewest tight end fantasy points. Week 13 against the Steelers is a far more forgiving date.

Updated: Pitts has now been diagnosed with a torn MCL, which will lead to a multi-week, if not season-ending, absence.

Demarcus Robinson randomly leads the Ravens in receiving. Or was it not so random? As J.J. Zachariason points out, Robinson has now commanded 23.5, 19.0, and 28.1 percent target shares over his past three appearances. He has cleared 6/60 two of the past three weeks. Robinson may not be what you call “good,” but he is a more traditional receiving threat than gadget guy Devin Duvernay. Lamar Jackson said afterward he wanted to get Robinson the ball even more. With byes on pause for Week 12 and ending for good soon, you will typically be able to do better than Robinson in your WR3/4 spots, but he is inarguably worth a flier at this stage of the game.

Lions designate No. 12 overall pick Jameson Williams to return from injured reserve. With his practice window open, Williams has 21 days to earn activation and return to the streaking Lions. That won’t come before Thursday’s Thanksgiving tilt with the Bills, but Williams could be back for Week 13 against the Jaguars. With D.J. Chark and Josh Reynolds both in and out of the lineup, the Lions have been missing a down-field element to their passing game, and Williams’ Tyreek-ian speed could change the face of the attack even if he’s merely a role player. As for fantasy, Detroit has a soft stretch-run schedule culminating in an A+ Bears matchup for Week 17. Williams is worth a flier despite his low 2022 floor.

Isiah Pacheco enters the RB2 chat. Pacheco had a good matchup in the Chargers. He took full advantage of it, ripping off one chunk gain after another and posting the first 100-yard rushing effort of the season by any Chiefs back. Pacheco’s big night came as Clyde Edwards-Helaire departed with an ankle injury and Jerick McKinnon lost a fumble. With the zombie Rams on tap for Week 12, Pacheco will have the runway to some momentum for a stretch-run schedule that features the Broncos and the Texans’ league-worst run defense. The young man’s moment is finally here, and the Chiefs can be expected to seize it as they try to establish a ground game heading into the playoffs.


1. Has “defensive-minded” coach Brandon Staley ever considered getting a defensive stop?

2. Will Nyheim Hines ever make the leap from “good idea in theory” to “good idea in practice”?

3. Remember D’Andre Swift?

Early Waivers Look (Players rostered in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)

QB: Marcus Mariota (@WAS), Ryan Tannehill (vs. CIN), Jacoby Brissett (vs. TB), Andy Dalton (@SF), Taylor Heinicke (@ATL), Mac Jones (@MIN)
RB: Samaje Perine, Latavius Murray, James Cook, Cam Akers, Trestan Ebner, Eno Benjamin
WR: Treylon Burks, Darius Slayton (51 percent), Donovan Peoples-Jones, Parris Campbell, Julio Jones, Mack Hollins, Demarcus Robinson, Nico Collins, Corey Davis, Skyy Moore, Romeo Doubs
TE: Juwan Johnson, Evan Engram, Foster Moreau, Mike Gesicki, Trey McBride, Jonnu Smith
DEF: Dolphins (vs. HOU), Chiefs (vs. LAR), Colts (vs. PIT), Jets (vs. CHI), Bears (@NYJ), Seahawks (vs. LV), Vikings (vs. NE)

Stats of the Week

With Khalil Herbert beginning his stay on injured reserve, David Montgomery reached 100 yards from scrimmage for the first time since Week 2. He played nearly 80 percent of the snaps. Trestan Ebner will not be forcing a committee.

J.J. Zachariason with the depressing D’Onta Foreman stats: “Over Foreman’s past four games, he’s scored 31.8 and 19 PPR points when facing Atlanta, and 4.1 and 2.4 PPR points when facing not Atlanta.”

Rich Hribar on Patrick Mahomes’ unreal red zone dominance:Patrick Mahomes inside the 10-yard line this season... 26-of-36 (72.2%) league average is 51.2% 19 TD (next closest has 10) 52.8% TD Rate (league rate is 35.3%).”

The Jets had more punts (10) than pass completions (nine).

Awards Section

Week 11 Fantasy All-Pro Team: QB Joe Burrow, RB Tony Pollard, RB Samaje Perine, WR Davante Adams, WR Amari Cooper, WR Josh Palmer, TE Travis Kelce

Tweet of the Week, from @NaturallyKatz11: Do not believe a team has historically had that dawg in them less than the Chargers.

Tweet of the Week II, from Kyle Dvorchak: Kansas City traded for Kadarius Toney on a two-week contract so he could retire a Chief.

How Can This Sentence Be Real Award: Foxborough crowd out for blood again, but it seems like it’s OC Matt Patricia who’s the target of the boos.

“Extra” Award of the Week: Brett Maher making back-to-back 60-yard field goal attempts to end the first half against the Vikings.

Russ Is Cooked Award, via Rich Hribar: Denver is the only team remaining in the league that has not run a single offensive play this season leading by double digits.

“Miss Me Yet?” Award: Bill O’Brien.

“In This Economy?” Award: Tutu Atwell scoring a 62-yard touchdown on his lone route.

The “Have You Considered Leaving Less Time?” Award: The Chargers.