As Joe Fann put it on Twitter, that sound you heard in Seattle was an era ending. No one should have really been counting on Russell Wilson to save the Seahawks’ season. Their problems are too manifold on both sides of the ball. But to score a single touchdown in two games? That wasn’t too much to ask. So the box score reads since Wilson’s return. Zero scores, two picks and 13 points. Abject disaster where at least one win should have been.
Deep though the Seahawks’ issues run, I didn’t think losing at home to Colt McCoy would be an option. Sunday should have been a held serve until the next fight for survival, Week 12’s Monday night visit to the nation’s capital. Instead we got Pete Carroll, perhaps the biggest optimist in an era of cynics, walking out of his press conference. This being Pete, he was the rare stormer to actually return, but he didn’t bring any answers with him. "I'm not prepared for this,” Carroll said of a stretch of losing that has seen his team win only one game since Oct. 3. “I'm struggling to do a good job of coaching when you're getting your butt kicked week-in and week-out. It's new territory, and I'm competing in every way I can think of. But I'm just unfamiliar with it.”
Carroll isn’t familiar with losing. He is familiar with a disconnect with his quarterback. What is looking like a second straight back-stretch of the season collapse for Wilson comes amidst a backdrop of constant trade rumors. FOX’s Jay Glazer said last month he “one million percent” expects Wilson to seek another move in the offseason. 2020 teammate Greg Olsen reaffirmed Glazer’s comments. Wilson himself has done nothing to tamp down the speculation.
It’s unclear at this point what could stop the train from leaving the station. The equivalent of the kid to save this marriage was new OC Shane Waldron. Rather than fix what ails this offense, Waldron has seen himself overwhelmed by the Seahawks’ same old problems. Poor blocking, an inconsistent running game, and a quarterback in desperate search of more volume who never quite seems sure what to do once he actually gets it. This coach/quarterback relationship has lasted longer than 99.99999 percent of all such arrangements in NFL history. It has outlasted the odds. Now it’s time to give in to them.
Five Week 11 Storylines
Jonathan Taylor scores touchdowns No. 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15, drops 50 burger in PPR leagues. Taylor’s 53.4 PPR points were the 22nd most all time, and fifth most since 2010. He found the end zone on 14.2 percent of his 35 touches against a defense that entered the week surrendering the fewest running back fantasy points. He notched three 20-plus yard rushes to bring his NFL-leading mark to 12 for the season. That would have already been the second highest total of all of 2020. All 15 of Taylor’s scores have come in his past eight games. After entering Week 10 with zero 20-carry performances, Taylor has notched 21 and 32, respectively over the past two weeks. Already broken out, Taylor has finally been cut loose. The result is something even the Bucs’ foreboding run defense will be helpless to stop in Week 12. There are no longer bad matchups for Taylor. He is the bad matchup.
Austin Ekeler scores more touchdowns than anyone not named Jonathan Taylor. The one true PPR god painted his masterpiece, finding the end zone twice on 11 carries and twice more on six receptions. Ekeler has carried the ball more than 11 times only four times all year, but he checks in as the RB3 overall by total PPR and half PPR points. Heck, he’s the RB3 even in standard. He is the platonic ideal of a modern fantasy back, operating more efficiently than not only Derrick Henry and Taylor, but Alvin Kamara and Aaron Jones, as well. Although Taylor and Najee Harris are trying to bring the bell-cow back, Ekeler will probably more and more resemble the norm in the future.
Eagles annihilate New Orleans’ league-best run defense. The Saints entered Week 10 having surrendered 62 fewer rushing yards than any other team. This wasn’t just a games played thing, as the lowest total by a club that had already had its bye was Cleveland’s 947. The Eagles proceeded to go 50/242/2, clearing 200 yards for the third time in four weeks. That is not normal, especially for an offense that had been amongst the league’s most pass heavy before its come to Jesus moment against the Bucs in Week 6. It’s also not normal considering the Eagles’ shifting run-game personnel. Jordan Howard made it only one half before injuring his knee on Sunday, while returning “starter” Miles Sanders couldn’t stop fumbling. The Eagles kept running, anyways, furthering their identity headed into a stretch-run schedule where no one is going to be able to stop them. @NYG, @NYJ, vs. WFT, vs. NYG, @WFT. That is the Eagles’ slate between now and Week 17. Buckle up.
Michael Carter suffers ankle injury in loss to Dolphins. The lone bright spots are getting, uhh, loner for the Jets. Carter made it only 10 touches into Gang Green’s latest loss, turning nine carries into a robust 63 yards while contributing a two-yard reception. In his absence, Tevin Coleman and Ty Johnson generated 31 yards on eight handles. Carter missed 29-of-30 minutes in the second half, boding ill for his odds of suiting up for this week’s dream date with the Texans. If he can’t go, Coleman and Johnson figure to form a near-even committee, but Johnson’s likely bigger role as a pass catcher will make him the preferred add on this week’s dispiriting waiver wire.
Darnell Mooney has 100-yard day in Allen Robinson’s absence. On the edge of a WR2 breakout all season, Mooney finally got there in the Bears’ two-quarterback fiasco against the Ravens. Mooney pulled in a 29-yard strike from Justin Fields, but it was his 60-yard touchdown on a wide receiver screen from Andy Dalton that baked the fantasy cake. It was also Dalton who stacked up Mooney’s volume, with 12 of his 16 targets coming after halftime. Fields made it only minutes into the third quarter. Mooney’s variables are plentiful with Fields and Robinson’s health up in the air, but Sunday confirmed it is long past time for the Bears to start treating Mooney as their primary weapon. With Robinson highly unlikely to return for Thanksgiving against the Lions, Mooney can be treated as a WR2 regardless of who is under center vs. Detroit’s awful defense.
Five More Week 11 Storylines
CeeDee Lamb suffers concussion vs. Chiefs, leaving Dallas without top two receivers for Thanksgiving. Lamb’s head smashed into the end zone turf in Kansas City, leaving him dazed and unable to get cleared in time for Turkey Day. The same is true for unvaccinated Amari Cooper, whose positive COVID-19 test last Friday has left him ineligible to practice until at least next Monday. With the Cowboys playing on Thursday again in Week 13, Cooper may not be guaranteed to even make it back in time for that one. In Lamb and Cooper’s absence, the Cowboys will be left with some combination of Michael Gallup, Cedrick Wilson, Malik Turner and Noah Brown against the Raiders. More than likely, the lost targets will funnel down more toward Dalton Schultz and Tony Pollard than Dallas’ reserve wideouts. Beyond Gallup, only Wilson will be worth a WR4 gander in re-draft leagues.
Titans’ offense goes all the way off rails without Derrick Henry, Julio Jones. With A.J. Brown in and out of the game with finger and ribs issues, the Titans had their long overdue post-Henry meltdown, committing five turnovers and scoring only 13 points against one of the worst teams in the league. Ryan Tannehill, who has taken multiple sacks in four straight contests, suddenly only has one more passing score than interception, while the backfield is an abject disaster sans Henry. Practice squadder Dontrell Hilliard took the lead on Sunday, totaling 82 yards on 15 touches. That was more than D’Onta Foreman, Adrian Peterson or Jeremy McNichols have offered thus far, but we have little idea how things might shake out in Week 12 against the Patriots, especially if McNichols returns from his concussion. It’s a situation best avoided vs. New England’s top-three defense.
Trevor Lawrence continues to display zero progress in Jags’ DOA offense. Do you know how hard it is for a quarterback to go three games without a touchdown in modern football? The only good news for Lawrence is that he has avoided interceptions in that span, but Lawrence is making sure to return the favor as his coaching and supporting cast fails to elevate him. Lawrence has a 56.0 completion percentage and 4.8 YPA over the past month. That is truly hideous, and keeping all three of Marvin Jones, Jamal Agnew and Laviska Shenault off the WR3 map. Frankly, none should even be considered a safe WR4, even for plus dates like Jacksonville’s Week 12 showdown with the Falcons. It is good for Lawrence’s psyche that his crucible has not included a hailstorm of interceptions, but his rookie year has to have more to offer than this.
Brandon Aiyuk goes 6/85/1 for second time in three weeks. All it took for Aiyuk to start consistently producing through the air was for the 49ers to go fully established on the ground. While there is some element of fluke to that, it has actually literally been the case the past two weeks as Deebo Samuel has morphed from wideout to Cordarrelle Patterson-ian hybrid, handling 13 carries out of the backfield. Sunday, that left behind a 31.8 percent target share for Aiyuk even as George Kittle had another strong game. Once again playing every snap, Aiyuk is at long last picking up on where he left off last year. He is going to have both a lower floor and ceiling than he did in 2020 with the 49ers running over 40 times per game, but he is at least back in the damn ballgame. WR3 could be the endgame.
George Kittle scores touchdown in third straight game. In one of the true absurdities of our time, Kittle entered 2021 having never scored in back-to-back contests. He has now done so in every appearance since his Week 9 return, not only keying fantasy revivals, but restoring respectability to the Niners’ offense as a whole with his ferocious blocking in addition to pass catching. Like Aiyuk, Kittle has been getting home in fantasy despite lesser volume than his glory days. That means, at some point, the bottom is going to fall out and he will go scoreless on five targets. But restoring ceiling is all managers could have reasonably hoped for in this typically dire year for the tight end position. Kittle will be a top-four option as long as his body can handle it.
1. Who is more likely to clear 250 yards rushing in Super Bowl LVI, the Patriots or Eagles?
2. Is there some reason Baker Mayfield can’t take a week off to rest the 45 different parts of his body that are injured?
3. Guest question, from Bomani Jones: Serious question: why is it that Baker Mayfield can't seem to throw to wide receivers?
Early Waiver Look (Players rostered in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)
QB: Taylor Heinicke (vs. SEA), Tua Tagovailoa (vs. CAR), Daniel Jones (vs. PHI), Ben Roethlisberger (@CIN), Mac Jones (vs. TEN), Jimmy Garoppolo (vs. MIN)
RB: Ty Johnson, Dontrell Hilliard, Latavius Murray, Boston Scott, Matt Breida, Tevin Coleman, DeeJay Dallas
WR: Van Jefferson, Will Fuller, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Rondale Moore, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Tim Patrick, Kendrick Bourne, Cedrick Wilson, Laviska Shenault
TE: Tyler Conklin, Dan Arnold, Evan Engram, Cole Kmet, Adam Trautman, Gerald Everett, Anthony Firkser, Ryan Griffin
DEF: Bears (@DET), Chargers (@DEN), Eagles (@NYG), Jaguars (vs. ATL), Texans (vs. NYJ)
On Bye: Cardinals, Chiefs
Stats of the Week
In his brief time on the field this season, Tim Boyle is both posting the lowest average depth of target and uncorking the highest percentage of interceptable passes. That is very hard to do.
The Jaguars have 43 points over their past four games. Seems bad.
Daigle lays out the Chiefs’ post-CEH backfield: Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s 70 percent share of backfield touches (in his first game off injured reserve) was his highest since Week 2. Darrel Williams’ 30 percent share was his lowest since Week 2.
The Saints have allowed two 200-yard rushing performances in the past six seasons. Both have come at the hands of the Jalen Hurts-led Eagles.
Tweet of the Week, from ACinthe715: I’d rather talk politics with my family than watch Bears/Lions on Thanksgiving.
Observation of the Week, from Jason Lieser: I wouldn’t understand some of these Matt Nagy answers any less if they were given in another language.
Just Asking Questions Award, from Seth Galina: Would present day Marques Colston, Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem be better than this receiving corps?
Whatever The Under Is, Hammer It Award: Saints/Bills.
The Power of 1,000 Vikings Suns Awards: The Bears’ loss.