Overtime Presenter & NFL Reporter
Hannah Wilkes helps you navigate your way through the 2021 Fantasy Football season in her weekly column; watch NFL Overtime with Hannah and Josh Denzel, every Thursday from 9pm on Sky Sports NFL
Last Updated: 18/11/21 10:31am
Sky Sports‘ NFL Fantasy Football guru Hannah Wilkes helps you navigate your way through the season in her weekly column, this week picking out some player pick-up options in the absence of the top-scoring Cooper Kupp on a bye…
Week 11 of the 2021 NFL season is here, and with it comes the moment countless Fantasy Football managers have been dreading: Cooper Kupp is on a bye!
The overall fantasy points leader this year, with his 1,141 receiving yards and 10 touchdown receptions, won’t be carrying your team this week, but the timing arguably couldn’t be better for the Los Angeles Rams as an organisation.
After back-to-back losses, all the noise around their signings of Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr, losing Robert Woods for the season, and having shown some telling deficiencies in defeat to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night, there likely isn’t a ‘Super Bowl contender’ in a ‘boom or bust season’ more in need of a week to regroup and refocus.
There have been countless think pieces around the Rams this week and where they really are as an organisation. I’m a Ram fan at heart, and so inherently biased, but ultimately, I’m not too worried. Losing your WR2 in Woods just two days before a primetime game was always going to be a problem. OBJ was never going to make much of an impact after catching a grand total of two balls from Matthew Stafford in practice and having no time to get up to speed on the Rams play book (his incomplete routes proved it). Add that to a seriously pumped-up 49ers team, a coach who has consistently got the better of Sean McVay in Kyle Shanahan, and a serious case of ‘butter fingers’ from most of the L.A. receivers, and you get a convincing beating.
The 49ers had a game plan, they ran the ball with ease, and Deebo Samuel was slicing through Rams defenders like a steak knife through butter as he hauled in a cool 30 fantasy points in the process.
Those 49ers could be having some fun against the Jacksonville Jaguars come Sunday if they play like that again.
A word on the Patriots
They’re looking rather good, aren’t they? Bill Belichick game-planned a cracker, shutting down the Cleveland Browns offense. Josh McDaniels neutralised Myles Garrett with the offensive line, and had Mac Jones making some beautiful throws, the run game is working (Rhamondre Stevenson, get him in your line-up!) as they went 7-of-9 on third downs on their way to a fourth-straight victory. Even Brian Hoyer looked good when he came on with the job done in the fourth quarter!
Jones’ performance and evolution in particular got me reflecting on the decision to go with him as the starter and release Cam Newton back in the summer. At the time, while it was never said overtly, it seemed to be a vaccine-related decision in that Newton hadn’t been inoculated against Covid-19. The former league MVP highly publicised the fact he then did get vaccinated and he is now back in the league, but I can’t help wondering if that was a little bit of a distraction to the bigger factor: Belichick knew what he had in Jones.
No coach has had more success with a late-round QB draft pick than Belichick in the history of football (I’m talking about Tom Brady here, keep up). He can spot a talent that works for him with an ability like no-one else. And 11 weeks into the season, being coached by the master himself, Jones has more wins than the rest of the rookie quarterback class combined and, most pertinently, the Patriots are hot on the heels of the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East.
In Belichick’s world, these things do not happen by accident.
No Cooper, fill your Kupp with…
Philadelphia Eagles rookie DeVonta Smith put up a nice 66 yards off four receptions and two touchdowns against the Denver Broncos and is next up against a New Orleans Saints team who have (surprisingly) given up the tied-most touchdowns to wide receivers in the last four weeks. He has been widely snapped up off the Waiver Wire but is worth a try if you can still get him.
More likely to be up for grabs in your league is Robby Anderson. Is this a sign of some serious Cam Newton hype-train jumping? Yes, but stick with me here. Anderson had his best game of the season in Week 10, boosted by Newton’s return to the Carolina Panthers, and is next up against a Washington Football Team that allows the second-most fantasy points in the league to wide receivers. Even if Newton, who he clearly has chemistry with, isn’t the starter this week, Anderson is in the best possible spot to put up points down the stretch.
Speaking of ‘SuperCam’ I’m all in on picking up Newton on my bench. Not a guaranteed fantasy success, but worth a punt in deeper leagues if you’re struggling for playoff contention and fancy a roll of the dice. It’s all meant to be fun and he brings bags of it!
Start start start…
Mac Jones against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 11. Need I say more?
My perennial search for a tight end this week is all aboard the Dawson Knox train. The Bills are a good football team, looking more like themselves. No-one understands the Indianapolis Colts week to week, but we do know that they give up plenty of fantasy points to tight ends. Stream on streamers.
Speaking of streaming…the Brian Flores-crafted Miami Dolphins defense against a Joe Flacco-led New York Jets? Count me in.
Myles Gaskin is also a good pick against the Jets. He has been getting a ton of carries through Miami’s last four games and comes up against the Jets’ 29th ranked run defense.
Proceed with some caution…
Kirk Cousins has been a top 10 fantasy QB this season but is coming up against the red hot Green Bay Packers defense this week. The Packers have allowed just 34 total points in their last three games. The opposing quarterbacks? Kyler Murray, Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson. Tough sledding ahead for the Minnesota Vikings.
We’ve all been on the Kyle Pitts appreciation bus since he lit it up for the Falcons in London (all the way back in Week 5, which feels like a lifetime ago!) but on Thursday night he’s up against a Belichick defense; always tough for a rookie. Plus, Cordarelle Patterson is an (unlikely) ‘game time decision’, and Calvin Ridley is still out, so Pitts will be covered every which way by the Patriots.
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