This article is part of our Exploiting the Matchups series.
I didn't intend to focus so heavily on one game this week, but it kind of played out that way before I fully realized what happened. No regrets, of course. There are a bunch of moving parts in the Colts-Bills matchup, between Cole Beasley's rib injury, the possibility of bad weather and the impact of two defenses with distinct strengths (and also a possible weakness in Indy's case).
Before I look at that rematch from last year's AFC playoffs and other key matchups for Week 11, I'd like to shamelessly plug my other work here on RotoWire. Matchups matter, no doubt, but familiarity with player roles and usage is more important, and that's where the Breakdown articles come in each week, highlighting recent trends and changes:
Last but not least, we have start/sit and streamers for Week 11...
Joe Burrow (at LV)
After opening the season with a pair of strong defensive performances in wins over Baltimore and Pittsburgh, the Vegas defense has been a mix of bad and mediocre the past eight weeks, dropping to 23rd in DVOA with a 17:4 TD:INT overall. The Raiders were a perfect get-right matchup for Patrick Mahomes last week, and they should be the same for Burrow as he comes out of a bye looking to end a two-game losing streak. The Raiders, of course, have also lost two in a row, and they'd probably be most people's pick (including mine) if you asked which AFC playoff contender is most likely to crumble down the stretch. The combination of an interim coach, mediocre QB and slumping defense is, uh, less than promising.
Myles Gaskin (at NYJ)
Gaskin did next to nothing (45 total yards) in the win over Baltimore last Thursday, but he at least reached a dozen carries (14, to be exact) for a fourth straight week, displaying a much higher workload floor than earlier in the season when both Salvon Ahmed and Malcolm Brown (IR/quad) were stealing carries. Patrick Laird might take a target or two, but with Ahmed's role more or less stagnant, Gaskin has accounted for 78 percent of Miami's RB carries and both goal-line looks in the three games since Brown injured his quad.
This week, the Dolphins might actually have some success on the ground — or at least with short passes to backs — as they're up against a Jets defense that's allowed a league-high 39.8 PPR points per game to RBs. Only the Seahawks (31.2 per game) are even within 10 points of that absurd number, and the last-place team in 2020 was Detroit at 33.3 per game.
D'Onta Foreman (vs. HOU)
The Titans likely will deploy a three-headed backfield for the third straight week, and we obviously can't count on Foreman rumbling for 39 yards on a screen pass the way he did last Sunday against the Saints. However, this right here is the spot to take a chance on one of the three Tennessee backs, playing at home as 10-point favorites against a Houston team that's allowed the 10th most PPR points (and seventh most standard points) to RBs. Maybe that ends up benefitting Adrian Peterson or Jeremy McNichols instead, but Foreman is slightly preferred to the other two after leading the trio in snap share (35 percent), touches (13), carries (11) and total yardage (78) last week.
- Honorable Mentions: Leonard Fournette, TB vs. NYG; D'Ernest Johnson, CLE vs. DET; Kenyan Drake, LV vs. CIN
Jaylen Waddle (at NYJ)
Waddle has caught 32 of his 43 targets (74.4 percent) from Jacoby Brissett, but they've led to just 257 yards (8.0 YPR, 6.0 YPT) and no touchdowns, while 41 targets from Tua Tagovailoa have yielded 300 yards (10.3 YPR, 7.3 YPT) and three scores. Furthermore, Waddle accounts for 24.8 percent of the Tua targets but only 19.9 percent of the Brissett targets, with TE Mike Gesicki seeing the same number of passes (43) from the backup QB as Waddle.
The rookie wideout should thrive with Tagovailoa back in the starting lineup this week, especially against a Jets defense that ranks dead last for both total DVOA and DVOA against the pass. The Jets are average in terms of fantasy points allowed to WRs for the season, but recent results have been far more favorable, with 11 different receivers scoring 9+ PPR points on the Jets over the past four weeks, including last week's 8-162-1 eruption from Stefon Diggs.
Emmanuel Sanders (vs. IND)
Sanders is coming off season lows for snap share (60 percent) and targets (two), unable to take advantage of a seemingly favorable matchup for the third straight week. The reduced playing time, however, was largely related to the blowout nature of the contest, and there was another development (Cole Beasley missing the entire second half with a rib injury) that could help Sanders' target share for the next week or three.
The fact he almost exclusively lines up outside may be contributing to Sanders' inconsistency, but it also means he should largely avoid the Colts' best cornerback, as Kenny Moore guards the slot in nickel packages. Plus, Indianapolis has struggled against the pass overall, ranking 23rd in DVOA and 27th in points allowed to wide receivers. Sanders should have the advantage here even if Xavier Rhodes (calf) makes it back this week, as the inconsistent 31-year-old corner has given Indy the bad version of himself this season, allowing the 20th most yards (387) among CBs despite playing only seven games, per PFF.
- Honorable Mentions: Christian Kirk, ARZ vs. SEA; Jarvis Landry, CLE vs. DET; Brandon Aiyuk, SF at JAX; Kendrick Bourne, NE at ATL; Marcus Johnson, TEN vs. HOU;
He's cooled off from his early season tear, but Schultz still has a three-down role in a top offense, and he's run a route on 87.3 percent of QB dropbacks in two games since Blake Jarwin (IR/hip) got injured (compared to 72.4 percent for the season, per PFF). The Chiefs shut down Darren Waller last week and generally have played better defense of late, but they've still given up the seventh most PPR points to tight ends this season and rank 27th in DVOA against the pass (21.5%).
Aaron Rodgers (at MIN)
Minnesota has already faced five of the top-12 fantasy QBs — plus Russell Wilson — and now goes up against No. 12* in Week 11. Despite the tricky schedule, the Vikings have as many interceptions (12) as TD passes allowed (12), ranking sixth in DVOA against the pass (-7.4%) but 28th in DVOA against the run (-2.9%). The matchup favors AJ Dillon over Rodgers, especially with the Vikings getting S Harrison Smith (illness) and possibly CB Patrick Peterson (hamstring) back in the lineup this week.
*His uniform number, yes, but also his ranking among QBs in fantasy points per game.
- Honorable Mentions: Carson Wentz, IND vs. BUF; Matt Ryan, ATL vs. NE; Taylor Heinicke, WAS at CAR; Daniel Jones, NYG at TB; Trevor Siemian, NO at PHI
The matchup against a defense that's allowed the third fewest fantasy points to running backs might not even be the biggest problem here. Moss also faces the possibility of a third RB getting work, after Matt Breida put up 50 yards and two TDs on six touches (but also lost a fumble) in the Week 10 win over Gang Green.
It's hard to say how much Breida will be involved after the interesting day, but we do know Singletary still has a medium-sized role, and we also know OC Brian Daboll is perfectly happy to go pass-happy when the matchup demands it (and sometimes even when it doesn't). In Singletary's case, he can probably just be dropped rather than benched in shallow leagues, as he's averaging 9.2 PPR points this season and has just one career game with 20 (in Week 9 of 2019). No ceiling, and not much of a floor these days either.
Nyheim Hines (at BUF)
Hines had a big game a couple weeks ago... against the Jets, and on the basis of superb efficiency rather than a large workload (106 yards on 10 touches). After that, he got just two carries and four targets on 28 percent of snaps in the Week 10 win over Jacksonville, while Jonathan Taylor had career highs for snap share (84 percent) and targets (eight). A tougher opponent in Week 11 could perhaps lead to negative game script and more snaps for Hines, but that still leaves the problem of facing a top defense, not to mention the likelihood of Taylor staying involved in the offense in situations where he might not have been last year.
Michael Pittman (vs. BUF)
You're probably in good shape if benching Pittman is even an option, but I did notice one of my own teams where it's in play this week, especially if the forecast for a rainy and windy Sunday in Buffalo holds up. The forecast also calls for a heavy dose of top cornerback Tre'Davis White — and possibly even a shadow matchup on Pittman — in addition to the even larger problem of a middling QB like Carson Wentz facing an elite defense on the road. Jonathan Taylor is fantastic, but Indy's implied total (21.5) still seems a little generous given that Buffalo's defense leads the league in DVOA (-25.3%), DVOA against the pass (-24.19%), NY/A (5.1) and interceptions (15), among other things.
Cole Beasley (vs. IND)
Don't bet against Beasley playing through his rib injury, but be aware that it may impact his form even if he suits up and returns to his normal role. That last part, of course, is far from a guarantee, and it would still leave him with the issue of the aforementioned matchup against Colts cornerback Kenny Moore. If anything, this might be the week to take a flier on Gabriel Davis, who blew his own cover with 100 yards on five targets last week. Diggs and Sanders are the safe bets to stay busy, be it on quick throws (boo) or deeper down the field (yay).
- Honorable Mentions: Marquez Callaway & Tre'Quan Smith, NO at PHI; Russell Gage & Tajae Sharpe, ATL vs. NE
Jared Cook (vs. PIT)
Cook's snap share rebounded to 58 percent last week after a season-low 42 percent in Week 9, but his production (1-10-0 on three targets) actually dropped even lower, marking a fifth time in nine games that Cook's finished south of 30 yards with no touchdown. While he did have some value as a streamer in October, the 34-year-old never managed to earn a larger role, instead moving in the other direction if anything. A matchup with the Steelers defense won't be easy, and Cook has both Donald Parham and Stephen Anderson looming as threats to poach snaps/routes/targets.
- Honorable Mentions: Kyle Pitts, ATL vs. NE
For Shallow Leagues (40-66 percent rostered)
QB Mac Jones (at ATL)
RB Alex Collins (vs. ARZ)
RB Devonta Freeman (at CHI)
RB J.D. McKissic (at CAR)
RB D'Onta Foreman (vs. HOU)
WR Darnell Mooney (vs. BAL)
WR Kenny Golladay (at TB)
WR Kadarius Toney (at TB)
TE Dan Arnold (vs. SF)
K Greg Zuerlein (at KC)
K Randy Bullock (vs. HOU)
D/ST Panthers (vs. WAS)
D/ST Dolphins (at NYJ)
For Medium-depth Leagues (15-39 percent rostered)
QB Tua Tagovailoa (at NYJ)
RB Jeremy McNichols (vs. HOU)
RB Brandon Bolden (at ATL)
RB Ty Johnson (vs. MIA)
WR Jamison Crowder (vs. MIA)
WR Kendrick Bourne (at ATL)
WR Nelson Agholor (at ATL)
WR Deonte Harris (at PHI)
WR Marcus Johnson (vs. HOU)
TE Tyler Conklin (vs. GB)
TE C.J. Uzomah (at LV)
TE Gerald Everett (vs. ARZ)
K Jason Sanders (at NYJ)
D/ST Chargers (vs. PIT)
For Deep Leagues (under 15 percent rostered)
QB Tyrod Taylor (at TEN)
RB Samaje Perine (at LV)
RB Eno Benjamin (at SEA)
RB Salvon Ahmed (at NYJ)
WR Randall Cobb (at MIN)
WR Amon-Ra St. Brown (vs. CLE)
WR DeAndre Carter (at CAR)
WR Jamal Agnew (vs. SF)
WR Kalif Raymond (at CLE)
WR Gabriel Davis (vs. IND)
TE Adam Trautman (at PHI)
TE Geoff Swaim (vs.HOU)
K Dustin Hopkins (vs. PIT)
K Jason Myers (vs. ARZ)
D/ST Bengals (at LV)
Unless otherwise noted, references to 'fantasy points' are based on PPR scoring with 25/10 yards per point and 4/6 points for TDs. Start percentage comes from Yahoo, as of Thursday morning.