Welcome to the Week 11 edition of our 2021 Fantasy Football Targets & Touches series.
I hope everyone reading had a happy and healthy Thanksgiving, complete with quality time with family, plates full of food, and three tough-to-watch football games.
This could be its own blog entirely, but we sat through one of the biggest football days of the year and were lucky enough to watch Dan Campbell's complete meltdown over clock mismanagement, a ref show that saw more combined penalty yards than combined rushing yards, and a one-sided blowout. We're lucky to watch this product every Sunday, and I'm blessed to cover the game for a living but come on.
Hopefully, this Sunday shapes out to be slightly more competitive, because we have a number of games on this slate with big playoff implications. I can't believe we're already here, either, but Week 12 is officially upon us. We're hitting the home stretch of the NFL season, which can only mean one thing: Fantasy Football playoffs are just around the corner. At this point, the market is slim. If you're competing, you've built a roster of guys that are consistently providing week in and week out.
The top scorers of Fantasy over the last few weeks are all players owned in more than two-thirds of leagues. At this point, we're looking for any small edge we can get. The players this week may not be consistently brilliant, but their contributions over the last few weeks have proven they are difference makers.
As always, let's state our sources up top. All metrics on run/pass frequency, yards/game or attempt, or attempts per game come from Team Rankings. All snap counts and target shares come from Fantasy Data. Any Fantasy rankings, ownership percentages, or target numbers come from FantasyPros in a Half-PPR scoring format. All references to EPA/play can be found on Ben Baldwin's Box Score plug-in on RBSDM. Anything else in the article will be directly linked to.
2021 Fantasy Football Targets & Touches Week 11
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Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts (52.4%)
Everybody wants to talk about Jonathan Taylor. (It's me. I'm everyone. You can read my film breakdown of Jonathan Taylor's monster five-touchdown game over at Football Outsiders.) From a Fantasy perspective, what sense would it make for me to recommend you "pick up" a guy owned in 99.9% of leagues? While you can't cash in on Taylor himself, you can benefit from the next-best thing: his back-up.
Nyheim Hines ranks RB23 over the last three weeks in Half-PPR leagues. Despite the fact he has 12 carries in that span, I still view Hines as a somewhat valuable Fantasy asset. Hines benefits just as much from the offensive line and play design I describe in my write-up of Taylor's game. His opportunities are just less frequent. Hines phased out of the game on Sunday in an effort to capitalize on Taylor's hot hand (or foot, *ba dum tssh*). In most games, however, he averages a snap share anywhere between 28% and 45%.
Because he's not always rushing, Hines instead makes up for things in the passing game. Hines is currently third on the team in targets, slightly out-pacing Taylor on the season. He averages 3.3 catches a game while doing so, catching 4.5 targets per game between Weeks 7 and 10 (he was not targeted in Week 11).
Hines is a good buy-low option that's averaged 9.8 yards per carry over the last three weeks. For leagues where he's already owned, I think Hines could be had for a song right now, especially coming off the heels of that Taylor performance. The offensive line will benefit more than just Taylor, and the current rushing leader will have to share carries at some point in order to have his legs saved come playoff time.
Matt Breida, Buffalo Bills (12.5%)
You knew one player from the Thanksgiving slate of games was bound to get a belated shoutout in this week's Targets & Touches.
I don't know how much this 31-6 win over the New Orleans Saints could tell you about the Buffalo Bills, but there's one thing this game did confirm: Matt Breida is hot on the scene in Buffalo.
Breida had not played since Week 1 before entering the game against the New York Jets in Week 10 . Since then, Breida has played exceptionally. Breida's arrival comes at a perfect time, just as Buffalo loses Zack Moss to injury and faces some deep rushing woes. Breida has managed a somewhat meager share of rushes, taking 17 total for 105 yards and a touchdown over the course of three games. However, Breida has caught balls in all three games he's played in. In three weeks, he picked up an additional 67 yards and two touchdowns on 6 receptions.
You won't be able to pick up Breida this week, but keep an eye out for him as you fill out waiver claims next weekend. Breida commands a good chunk of red-zone rushes and targets from this Bills offense. Moss was a healthy scratch in Week 12, calling into question whether he will be a long-term piece of this rushing game. Breida's stock is going up, take a flier out on him just to see if things hold.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers (15.4%)
The Green Bay Packers haven't quite looked as dominant as they did last year. Lo and behold, they're still 8-3 just a game out of first place. One of the reasons the team hasn't looked as strong is because the offense has dealt with a number of injuries all year. Aside from Aaron Rodgers' bout with COVID-19, Davante Adams, Aaron Jones, Alan Lazard, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling have all missed time this year. Valdes-Scantling has missed by far the most time, hitting the IR from Weeks 4 through 8.
Now that he's back, however, MVS is already feeling at home in the offense again. Valdes-Scantling's snap count has steadily climbed over the last three weeks.
- Week 9: 34 Snaps (54%)
- Week 10: 49 Snaps (66.2%)
- and Week 11: 48 Snaps (81.4%)
In that same time, MVS ranks second on the team in targets. He's coming off the heels of a 10-target game, reminding everyone just in time that he's a vital member of this Packers passing game. Don't let an injury talk you out of a guy who's been WR23 since he returned to action.
Kendrick Bourne, New England Patriots (17.5%)
Kendrick Bourne is the first player this season to make Targets & Touches more than once. Honestly, some of the blame lies on your shoulders, reader. I told you guys all the way back in Week 3 that Bourne is one of the most athletic receivers New England has ever had in their offense. With a 0.7% ownership rate at the time, I labeled him a steal, worthy of a flier come free agency. Since Week 4, Bourne ranks WR25 in Half-PPR leagues, moving up to WR15 if you shrink the sample size to the last three weeks. Even as a flex play, you can't stick your nose up at a top-25 wide receiver.
The New England Patriots have come into their own as an offense over the last few weeks. Mac Jones looks more comfortable delivering the ball and maneuvering within the Patriots' system, currently ranking second in the league in completion percentage. Their run game has been dominant working behind one of the best offensive lines in football. Even the passing game now ranks 15th in EPA per dropback. New England is humming, and Kendrick Bourne deserves some of the credit.
Bourne leads the team in receiving yards despite having almost half the targets of team leader Jakobi Meyers. He shares the second-place on the team touchdown receptions list with Nelson Agholor. Bourne also leads the team in Yards After the Catch with a staggering 256 yards. That means 45.5% of his total yardage comes after he catches the ball. Bourne is seeing consistent production in the targets department as well. He has five straight games with four or more targets. While everyone else on the team has numbers that fluctuate week to week, Bourne is a model of consistency. In fact, as the weeks have gone on, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has been designing plays to get Bourne open. Bourne went from a potential depth piece to a vital cog in the New England machine.
At this point, continue to ignore Bourne at your own peril. He's a model of consistency with this Patriots team; he continues to rise to the occasion every time he gets a new opportunity. Get on board now, or risk someone else scooping him up as a good supplement to any playoff team.
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