Fantasy players on the rise: A look at the fantasy players who stood out in Week 11 and who may be poised to put up big numbers moving forward.
Week 11 of the 2019 NFL season has come and gone! This past week saw a lopsided battle of MVP favorites, the accelerated rise of numerous young WR’s, and the continued rebound efforts of the Atlanta Falcons. It was a week rife with narratives and statement victories, but only a handful of players could be named as true stand-outs. Let’s see who made the cut:
LAMAR JACKSON (Baltimore Ravens)
The narrative leading into Sunday afternoon’s battle between the Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans was akin to a Heavyweight Championship match in Boxing.
The tale of the tape was set between two of the league’s top young QB’s as Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson were set to square off. The kickoff happened, and the narrative of an MVP shootout went up in smoke as the Ravens hammered the helpless Texans in a 41-7 blowout victory. Jackson was nearly untouchable in the effort, posting a 33 point fantasy showing for the second straight week and posting a final stat line of (308 Total Yards/4 Tds).
The second-year superstar’s meteoric rise to the top of the league’s QB ranks has been one of the most pressing stories of the 2019 season, and this victory more than cemented Jackson’s place among the top candidates for league MVP. He’ll look to continue his streak of dominance against a vulnerable LA Rams defense in Week 12.
SAM DARNOLD (New York Jets)
The 2019 season has been a loss for the New York Jets for well over a month now, but the continued growth of second-year QB Sam Darnold has to have fans smiling.
The sophomore savior for gang green was stellar on Sunday afternoon, carving through a hapless Washington defense seemingly at will. The Jets offense has now scored 34 points in back to back contests, with Darnold posting a TD/INT ratio of (6/1) in that span and posting fantasy totals over 20 points in both match-ups. He finished Sunday’s contest with a final stat line of (293 Yards/4 TD’s).
At just 22 years old, Darnold represents a player with the talent to grow into a very good QB in this league, and he’ll have plenty of time to continue to refine that talent if Jets management continues to support him appropriately.
JOHN BROWN (Buffalo Bills)
Josh Allen could have very easily held this spot on the rundown this week, but we thought it would be appropriate to reward Brown for his big day. The Bills resident speedster wrecked the unprepared Miami secondary for a stat line of (9 Rec/137 Yds/2 TD’s) en route to a dominant 37-20 Buffalo victory. Brown’s 30 fantasy points in Week 11 represented a season-high, as did his receptions (9), receiving yards (137) and TD’s (2).
Like most deep threat WR’s Brown has a fairly unpredictable weekly fantasy floor, but with a QB like Allen, it’s safe to assume he’ll get a shot to make a boom play each time he’s out there. He’ll have a middle of the road match-up against the Denver Broncos in Buffalo in Week 12.
D.J. CHARK JR. (Jacksonville Jaguars)
One of fantasy football’s biggest surprises of 2019 just continues to produce at a high level.
The second-year wide-out scored his seventh and eighth touchdowns of the year on Sunday afternoon. This is a stat that is made all the more impressive by the fact he’s caught those 8 TD’s from two separate QB’s. Chark has been the Jacksonville Jaguars stand-out wide receiver this season, and he’s done it whether Nick Foles or Gardner Minshew II have been under center. He produced 100% of the Jaguars offense in Sunday’s blowout loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Chark finished the day with a final stat line of (8 Rec/104 Yds/2 TD’s).
This game marked Charks 3rd 100+ receiving yard performance of 2019, and his 15 targets were a massive uptick from the 7 he averaged with Minshew under center. He can be relied upon as a WR2 or a Top 5 FLEX option regardless of matchup for the rest of the year with Foles back.
MARLON MACK (Indianapolis Colts)
Despite leaving Sunday’s contest early due to an unfortunate injury, Marlon Mack was the name people were talking about when this game ended. His fantasy finish of (16 points) doesn’t immediately jump off the page, but if you watch the tape back from the game you’ll see that Mack was in complete control of the Jacksonville defense.
His TD score, a spinning, twirling, tackle-breaking master class in power and finesse, perfectly encapsulated who Mack is as a rusher. The Colts have one of the true diamonds in the rough at the RB position, and he’ll only continue to get better behind Quinton Nelson and the rest of Indy’s powerful offensive line. His injury is one well worth following, but in the event he misses time we highly recommend placing him in your IR slot and picking up Nyheim Hines (if he’s available).
KYLE RUDOLPH (Minnesota Vikings)
Will the real Kyle Rudolph please stand up? Anyone who has read my write-ups for the Fantasy Files will know that I’ve frequently been critical of the Vikings TE’s fantasy output in the past. His past production has been severely lacking, with Minnesota’s surplus of offensive options often leaving Rudolph to be a true “feast or famine” waiver-wire option in most situations.
Despite all of that, Rudolph has arguably been the most valuable TE in fantasy football over the past two weeks. The Vikings big man has posted fantasy totals of (17 points/15 points) over the past two contests, catching 9 balls for 90+ yards and scoring 3 TD’s over that span. The cherry on top was his performance in Week 11 against the Denver Broncos. Rudolph hauled in all 5 of his targets for 67 yards and 2 TD’s in a game where Minnesota started slow and had to rally from behind. Minnesota’s 27-23 victory can be placed largely the shoulders of their resurgent tight end.
With Adam Thielen still sidelined for the immediate future, Rudolph should continue to see an expanded role in the Vikings passing game.
MICHAEL GALLUP (Dallas Cowboys)
To finish up this week’s rundown we have a pair of break-out wide receivers. Michael Gallup isn’t a household name (yet), but if he continues to play the way he did in Week 11, that will change quickly.
The second-year stud WR had a field day against the Lions secondary, finishing with a final stat line of (9 Rec/148 Yds) and narrowly missing a TD on multiple occasions. The most telling stat of all for Gallup is the increase in his target share over the past two weeks. Gallup has seen double-digit targets from Dak Prescott in the past two games (10 targets/13 targets), and he’s made the most of those opportunities.
With two touchdowns and a 100+ yard receiving game over his last 3 games and three straight double-digit fantasy finishes to his credit, Gallup should be looked at a certifiable break-out talent worthy of strong FLEX/Mid WR2 consideration on a weekly basis. He will face his toughest test to date when the Cowboys match-up with the New England Patriots in Week 12.
COURTLAND SUTTON (Denver Broncos)
The second break-out WR is an even more obscure name. Courtland Sutton has fallen under the national radar due to the lackluster, uninteresting play of the Denver Broncos, but fantasy football players should know him well.
The Broncos’ second-year wide-out bullied the Vikings secondary for a final stat line of (5 Rec/113 Yds) on Sunday, leading the team in receiving yards, and giving Denver their best chance to win. The game marked Sutton’s second 100+ receiving yard performance of the year, and his target share (9) was tied for his highest of the 2019 campaign. Sutton is performing extremely well and becoming a leader in just his second year in the league with an extremely limited talent group around him.
If Denver can finally nail its QB selection in the 2019/2020 off-season he could be the D.J. Chark Jr. of the 2020 fantasy season. The talent is there, he just needs the right man throwing him the ball.
MY MAIN TAKEAWAY FROM WEEK 11
The Baltimore Ravens are a legitimate Super Bowl team.
Weeks back I sang the praises of the resilient New Orleans Saints in this write-up. I spoke about the galvanizing efforts of their defense and the unbelievable support they provided Teddy Bridgewater during the month+ period of recovery where they were missing Drew Brees. I called New Orleans the best team in the NFL because of these traits, and I still believe they’re the class of the NFC. However, I can no longer call them the clear cut best team in the league with the way the Baltimore Ravens have been playing.
Baltimore came into the 2019 NFL season with more questions than answers from a national perspective. Lamar Jackson was still looked at as a gadget player that many believed would be better suited as a running back/wide receiver than a Quarterback. Baltimore also lost stand-out members of its defense (Za’Darius Smith/Eric Weddle/CJ Mosley) in free agency. Expectations were not high for this group, and they’ve taken it upon themselves to reset their own expectations by becoming undeniable. John Harbaugh’s team has gone from an afterthought to a juggernaut before our eyes, and the list of people laughing at Lamar Jackson Is growing shorter by the second.
The Ravens’ decision to build their offense 100% around the strengths of Lamar Jackson has proven to be a stroke of genius. Greg Roman’s offensive scheme of read options, end-arounds and designed runs has confounded every opponent they’ve faced this year. It is an offense that has propelled Jackson from a punchline to an MVP favorite, and it’s an attack that handed the New England Patriots their only loss of the 2019 season.
Baltimore’s past two victories (NE/HOU) are the games that made me a believer in how special they could be. Their systematic destruction of the Patriots provided a blueprint for the rest of the league and showcased that Belichick/Brady had a true competitor in the AFC. Their blow-out victory against Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans this past week simply doubled down on the dominance they showed against New England and propelled Lamar Jackson to Top 3 MVP status in the process.
The 2019 Baltimore Ravens were not a trendy pick to win their division before the season began, let alone be looked at as one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl. Despite all of the expectations and best-laid narratives of pundits and “experts”, the Ravens have revealed themselves to be one of the NFL’s superpowers this year. They’ve forced their Super Bowl window open through innovation and athleticism and they’re a team that has a legitimate chance to jump through that window and seize the Lombardi Trophy by years end. There isn’t a team in the NFL right now that should be more feared than this group.