Normally, I come in hot with a BANG in this column. Some amazing Justin Jefferson catch or an improbable, incredible team comeback to headline the week’s action… but not this time. Week 11 is the time to look at the lowlights and take stock of a very important fantasy development: It’s getting colder, scores are getting lower and fantasy production is beginning to decline in some situations.
10-3 in the Patriots-Jets game (zero offensive touchdowns). 13-3 in Ravens-Panthers and 17-16 in Eagles-Colts. NINE games had Vegas over/under lines of less than 45 total points. Things are starting to get cold, ugly and physical out there, so we simply have to take note of that in our fantasy football community. Still, despite a few boring, underwhelming games, some target monsters stood tall above the rest.
“Wan”-and-done for Mr. Robinson
GM Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll have successfully changed the culture within the New York Giants’ football organization. Yes, this week they suffered a disappointing loss to the unpredictable Detroit Lions, but the Giants remain in an NFC playoff spot with a surprisingly good 7-3 record. One of their first impact moves was selecting explosive wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson as the 43rd overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. To this point – due to injuries and general inexperience at the pro level – Wan’Dale had been coming along slowly, but Sunday he broke out with 13 targets (tied for the most in the league), nine receptions and 100 yards receiving. The rising rookie finally appeared to be delivering upon his promise.
Unfortunately, just as things were looking up, Robinson went down with what looked to be a bad right knee injury. According to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan, there’s concern within the Giants’ organization that Wan’Dale’s injury is “serious”. If that turns out to be true, “Danny Dimes” will be relying upon Darius Slayton, Richie James Jr. and gulp… Kenny Golladay going forward. Unfortunately for the Giants and their faithful, it appears as if the early season magic is slowly but surely starting to disappear.
Do people even get the “Freier” Tuck reference?
When I was three or four years old and Grandma was babysitting, I knew it was movie time. I’d sit down in front of the TV and wait for an old classic, whether it be The Wizard of Oz, King Kong or The Adventures of Robin Hood. In the latter, Robin Hood had a band of Merry Men led by Friar Tuck, the most boisterous and entertaining of them all. In Week 11, the famous Friar role was played by Steelers’ tight end Pat Freiermuth, who laughed his way to the bank with 12 targets, eight receptions, 79 yards and 30 respectable points from the Kenny Pickett-led Steelers.
In what has been one of the worst tight end seasons in the history of fantasy football, eight receptions for 79 yards constitutes a monster performance from Freiermuth. His 12 targets trailed only Wan’Dale, Tee Higgins and Davante Adams this week, and his 67 total targets are good for 6th among all tight ends this season. Freiermuth has been a strong value pick, showcasing fantasy relevance with either Pickett or Mitch Trubisky at quarterback for Pittsburgh.
The weekly “Usual Suspects”
You know the drill at this point – these are the guys we absolutely expected to see atop the target leaderboard. I’ve already mentioned Higgins and Davante, but we also weren’t surprised to see Amari Cooper (12 targets), Travis Kelce (10), T.J. Hockenson (9), DeVonta Smith (9), Mark Andrews (8), Amon-Ra St. Brown (8) and Keenan Allen (8, finally back from injury).
For me, the takeaway here is Hockenson. His Vikings got embarrassed by the hungry Dallas Cowboys, and “Hock” was only able to convert his team-leading nine targets into five measly receptions for 34 yards. The chemistry just simply isn’t there with Kirk Cousins, at this point. It’s very early in Hockenson’s Minnesota tenure – so he certainly has some time to turn it around – but the Vikings will need that development if they wanna hang in the upper echelon of the NFC. This was a go-for-it move by the Vikings, and they absolutely need it to pay off in the end.
Sprinkling in some pleasant surprises
After seeing just two looks in back-to-back weeks, rookie Alec Pierce emerged with eight targets from Matt Ryan this week. Over in Green Bay, Allen Lazard cracked double-digit targets for just the second time this season, while Aaron Jones picked up seven looks of his own.
Last but not least, Titans’ rookie Treylon Burks picked up a career-high eight targets from veteran Ryan Tannehill. It may not happen this year, but Pierce and Burks should be promising fantasy picks in their subsequent sophomore seasons. I’ll see ya right back here next week.
John Frascella is a published sports author who has been covering the NFL for 18 years. Follow him on Twitter @LegendSports7 for all things football throughout the second-half of a sensational NFL season.