Recapping the most important Week 11 performances from top fantasy football rookies of 2018 and looking ahead to their Week 12 matchups.
Josh Rosen (QB, Arizona Cardinals)
The bad news: Josh Rosen only completed nine passes on Sunday. The good news: three of those completions went for touchdowns. In a very favorable matchup against Oakland at home, Rosen was very underwhelming. He went 9-for-20 for 136 yards, with the three touchdowns and two interceptions in a loss to the Raiders.
This week, the Cardinals will head to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers. It is a pretty good matchup for Rosen, as the Chargers are just 19th in the NFL allowing 17.9 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. The game flow may require a lot of passing, as Philip Rivers knows how to put points on the board, so we should see Rosen air it out a bit this week. The Chargers have been good, however, at creating turnovers, so albeit a good matchup, Rosen will need to be aggressive while also taking care of the football.
Lamar Jackson (QB, Baltimore Ravens)
Lamar Jackson finally got to make his first NFL start filling in for the injured Joe Flacco on Sunday. He was very average as a passer, going 13-for-19 for 150 yards and an interception. He did, however, provide very good fantasy value as a runner. He contributed 117 yards on the ground on 27 carries. It’s not a great formula for a quarterback to run more than they throw, but it worked for the Ravens as they won the game; and it’s possible Jackson could provide some deep fantasy value should he continue to start.
The Ravens will welcome the Raiders to town this week. Baltimore has not announced who the starter will be; it all depends on Flacco’s health, but it is a very good matchup should Jackson get the call. Oakland allows 18.7 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks and Jackson has shown he’s not afraid to tuck it and run. In fact, he prefers it. He could provide value in 16/20-team leagues or in 2QB leagues if he starts.
Saquon Barkley (RB, New York Giants)
Saquon Barkley is back to proving why he was the 2nd selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, at least for this week. He set career highs with 27 carries, 142 rushing yards and three total touchdowns in a victory over the Buccaneers. The Giants made it evident that the game plan for Sunday went through Barkley and his fantasy owners benefitted.
The Giants will head to Philadelphia to take on the rival Eagles this week. This presents a difficult matchup, as they are 11th in the league allowing just 17.0 fantasy points per game to opposing running back committees. The good news for Barkley owners: there’s not much of a committee in New York and he cut through the Philly defense for 130 yards and a score on just 13 carries against them earlier this season.
Kerryon Johnson (RB, Detroit Lions)
For the second week in a row, Kerryon Johnson managed to find the end zone against a stingy run defense. This past weekend, it came against Luke Kuechly and the Panthers. He carried the ball 15 times for 87 yards and a touchdown in the win. It’s very impressive that Johnson is continuing to produce, even against some of the league’s toughest run defenses.
This week presents another difficult matchup. At home on Thanksgiving Day, the Lions will host the Bears, who sport the league’s top rush defense, allowing just 12.1 fantasy points per game to the position. The diamond in the dirt for Johnson owners is that just two weeks ago, he managed to score twice on the very same defense in Chicago.
Phillip Lindsay (RB, Denver Broncos)
After his most disappointing game in the NFL, Phillip Lindsay followed it up with an impressive performance against a tough Chargers’ defense. He managed 106 scrimmage yards on just 15 touches and topped it off with two rushing touchdowns. He continues to defend the Broncos’ decision in naming him the starter earlier this season.
The Broncos will host the Steelers this week in a tough matchup for Lindsay. The Steelers have been susceptible to the pass this season, but have been very stingy against the run, allowing just 16.4 fantasy points per game. The good news for Lindsay owners is he continues to receive the bulk of the red zone carries. If there’s a rushing touchdown to be had in this game for the Broncos, it will likely be Lindsay that gets the call.
Tre’Quan Smith (WR, New Orleans Saints)
The breakout game we’ve been expecting from Smith has finally occurred! He torched the Eagles’ defense for 157 yards and a score on 10 catches. His 14 targets shattered his previous season high of six in Week 7 and he showed he can be the ultimate complementary piece to Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara in the Saints’ high-powered offense.
This week, the matchup is even better. The Saints will host the Falcons on Thanksgiving night. Atlanta has been horrid against the pass this season, allowing 27.1 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers. If last week showed us anything, it’s that New Orleans is not afraid to pour it on late in the game. This should be the perfect opportunity for Smith to repeat his performance and have another impressive fantasy output.
D.J. Moore (WR, Carolina Panthers)
Similar to Tre’Quan Smith, Moore finally had his breakout performance this week, as well. He also got through the Lions’ defense for 157 yards on just seven catches, including one touchdown. It’s becoming clear to football fans and Panthers’ coaching that Moore is the most talented receiver on their roster, and it’s only a matter of time before he’s a must-start week to week.
The Panthers will host the Seahawks this week, who have been spectacularly mediocre in just about every aspect of the game. They’re middle of the pack, 17th, against opposing fantasy wide receivers this season. In addition, I expect Moore to be a much more focal point in the offense for the Panthers moving forward.
Anthony Miller (WR, Chicago Bears)
Anthony Miller tied his season low in targets with just three in a win over the Vikings this week, however, he did manage to convert one into a touchdown reception. This was a hard-fought game between the two and there wasn’t much yardage to be gained through the air. The fact that Miller still managed to be fantasy relevant with just two receptions is very promising moving forward.
The Bears head to Detroit this week to face the Lions for the second time in three weeks. They have not been particularly stingy against the pass this season, and Miller had his best game of the season against them, going for 122 yards and a score on five catches in Week 10. I expect another big game from Miller this week as the Bears look to take a stranglehold on the NFC North.