Fantasy football Week 11: Jamaal Williams, Tony Pollard come up big

Week 11 of the 2022 fantasy football season featured three more short touchdowns by Detroit's Jamaal Williams and another big game by Green Bay rookie Christian Watson. Which other developments from the week are worth reading into? Matt Bowen and Tristan H. Cockcroft offer their analysis.

Lions lean on Williams -- not Swift -- near end zone

Attribute the Lions' 31-18 win over the Giants Jamaal Williams almost entirely, as he set a personal best with three rushing touchdowns, taking over the league's lead with 12, and exceeded 20 PPR fantasy points for the fourth time in 2022. Williams is on track to be one of the most unlikely categorical leaders, and he has become a machine in goal-line situations (see the attached chart). But it's more than simply stealing D'Andre Swift's touchdown opportunities, as Williams has taken over the lion's share of the work between the 20s, another unexpected development. Williams' rise in work as well as his short-yardage prowess have earned him a weekly place in any fantasy lineup as a borderline RB2 -- something that might strengthen if these backs' shares widen any further. -- Cockcroft

Tristan, Swift was about to get a negative write-up in this spot until he scored on a late game touchdown run, which pushed his PPR total to 12.2 points. But there still has to be concerns here, right? Swift logged eight touches today. That's it. Last week? Seven. The week before? Just five. The lack of volume here, plus Williams' role as the lead runner in Detroit, should have Swift managers scrambling a bit. And I'm not sure he can be viewed as more than a Flex option right now. -- Bowen

Watson continues to open eyes

Flash back to Thursday night, and it was Christian Watson delivering one of the week's best performances, a second straight in which he cleared the 20-point PPR fantasy plateau. This one locked in Watson's breakout status he carved out in Week 10. After a 32.7 pointer last week, he went for a 21.1 pointer against the Titans, highlighting the dimension he brings to the Packers' vertical passing game and giving Green Bay a legitimate big-play receiver for the first time in 2022. Watson will be challenged by the stingy Eagles defense in Week 12, and he has a bye ahead (Week 14), but he was the past week's pickup you should be celebrating and rolling out as a weekly WR3 with a borderline-WR1's upside. -- Cockcroft

With Watson on the field, Rodgers has a true one-on-one matchup player. We know he can stretch defenses vertically, and he's also shown the ability to run away from coverage on crossers. So, when Rodgers reads single-high coverage, it opens the door for Watson to produce scoring plays. -- Bowen

Barkley a non-factor vs. Lions

Among Week 11's most disappointing team performances came from the hot-starting Giants, who dropped a 31-18 stinker loss to the Lions. Blame Daniel Jones for his two interceptions, if you wish, but Barkley's 5.5 PPR fantasy points on 17 touches, and especially his 22 yards on 15 rushing attempts, were unacceptable considering the matchup -- the Lions entered the week the position's ninth most-favorable schedule adjusted matchup with the league's worst all-around defense. It was Barkley's worst single-game score in his career in any game which he played 30 or more offensive snaps. That's not what you want to see when a critical matchup against the Cowboys is upcoming, a road game on the short week on Thanksgiving. -- Cockcroft

Pollard stars in Cowboys win

Ezekiel Elliott returned from a knee injury Sunday, yet Tony Pollard remained the Cowboys' backfield star, with the 25-year-old back excelling in the receiving game this time around. Elliott had 16 touches but didn't cut deeply into Pollard's workload, as the latter played 53% of the offensive snaps, had an equal number of rushing attempts (15 for each) and added a 6-109-2 receiving stat line for a career-best 36.9 PPR fantasy points. Consider this more Pollard capitalizing upon the weak part of the Vikings' defense -- it's not especially good on short pass attempts or those over the middle -- as his big-play ability was evident in that regard here, as he scored on 30- and 68-yard receptions in which Next Gen Stats clocked him at a max speed greater than 20 mph. Pollard is now the Cowboys running back you most want, a locked-in RB2 with top-10 positional upside. -- Cockcroft

Tristan, I'm with you on Pollard. And the pass game really jumps here. If we continue to see Pollard deployed as a receiver, with underneath throws and schemed matchups, then he will be in the RB1 mix. We saw his open-field juice after the catch Sunday versus the Minnesota defense. He can shift gears with ease. Throw the swings here. Or release him -- vertically -- from backfield alignments. I think we both agree that Pollard upgrades the Dallas run game. More speed, more big play ability. But let's not forget that Pollard has the dual-threat traits to boost his fantasy profile. -- Bowen

Pierce remains quiet in loss

Any of the barbs I might sling about Dameon Pierce's 3.7 PPR fantasy points would head in the direction of his team's awful offense, which performed just about as poorly as could be imagined during the portion of the game where the rookie running back might've made an impact. Davis Mills was picked early and sacked five times, and the Texans amassed 148 yards as a team, things that threaten Pierce's productivity in coming weeks, especially games against the Dolphins (Week 12), Cowboys (Week 14) or Chiefs (Week 15), where game flow might prove problematic. Pierce did exceed the 70% threshold of offensive snaps played for the fifth time in the past six weeks, and he had 12 touches, so it's clear he'll be fed at any and all opportunities. That's plenty to keep him RB2-relevant, but keep your fingers crossed his Texans can play crisper football against better, upcoming foes. -- Cockcroft

Adams still a winner in Las Vegas

The trade to Las Vegas hasn't had any adverse impact upon Davante Adams, despite Derek Carr's struggles, as the wide receiver scored 30-plus PPR fantasy points for the second time in the past three weeks, finishing Week 11 with 33.1. That gave him 97.3 PPR fantasy points in the past three weeks combined, the second most in his career over any three-game span behind only the 108.2 he scored in Weeks 7-9 of 2020, underscoring Adams' ability to dominate the game regardless of who is throwing him the football. He has a fantasy-friendly remaining schedule and needs be locked in as a positional top-five play. -- Cockcroft

How about that walk-off TD from Adams to win the game, Tristan? Smooth stuff there. He forced Patrick Surtain II to overplay the break. Open grass to attack after that. High-level route runner. -- Bowen

What to make of Mariota

With 17.74 fantasy points in the Week 11 win over Chicago, Marcus Mariota has now posted 17 or more fantasy points in five of his last seven games. Is there a pattern here? Maybe. Mariota has thrown at least one touchdown pass in six of his last six starts. We know he will be utilized as a runner on designed concepts in Arthur Smith's offense. And we saw that in the Week 11 game with Mariota scoring on a zone-read concept. But when I brought it up today, during the early games, Tristan was extremely quick to drop Mariota's upcoming schedule on me. Do I still like Mariota in deeper leagues? Yeah, I think there's some upside here given his rushing ability if you need a last minute pickup to play in to play in the lineup. -- Bowen

Matt, my main gripe with Mariota -- about whom I agree does have streaming/2QB/superflex appeal -- is that I look at his Week 14 bye, Week 15 against the Saints and Week 16 against the Ravens and can't imagine myself feeling comfortable starting him -- plus I simply cannot stand late-season byes, because of how much it adversely impacts my roster flexibility. Mariota's problem is that his game log doesn't fall into a natural pattern of exploiting matchups, so a degree of guesswork is involved, as the most critical weeks approach. -- Cockcroft

Other observations:

Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills: He and the Bills offense couldn't seem to close the deal in Week 11, and Allen's 12.58 fantasy points wound up his fewest since Week 13 of 2021 against the Patriots, disappointing considering the Browns' defense isn't anywhere near the tough matchup that the Patriots were at that time. Theorize that Allen's elbow injury has had an influence if you wish, but I'm not buying it from what I've seen, and think that the abrupt change in routine -- remember, this game was moved to Detroit to avoid the massive snowfall in Buffalo -- is a more rational explanation, especially since Allen seemed to heat up as the game progressed. Speaking of Detroit, Allen now faces the Lions on Thanksgiving, the short week a negative but the matchup itself an overwhelming positive. I have little doubt that Allen will be my QB1 for that one. -- Cockcroft

Chris Olave, WR, New Orleans Saints: For the first time since Week 3, Olave topped the 20 point PPR mark, checking-in with 21.2 PPR points in the Week 11 win over the Rams. The rookie wide receiver caught 5-of-6 targets in this one for 102 yards, plus a score. And that touchdown grab -- on a 53 yard throw from Andy Dalton -- highlighted Olave's deep ball ability. He floats down the field. Easy speed. And no wasted movement. Now, I still think Olvae has a higher fantasy ceiling when paired with quarterback Jameis Winston. He's simply a much more aggressive thrower on vertical concepts. But with Dalton expected to remain as the No.1 for the Saints, Olave will stick as a WR2 for the Week 12 matchup versus the 49ers defense. -- Bowen

David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears: Montgomery posted a season-high 21.1 PPR points in the Week 11 loss to the Falcons. And the volume for Montgomery (20 touches) points to a pretty defined role as the lead back in Chicago moving forward. With Khalil Herbert on IR, and rookie Trestan Ebner only logging six carries, Montgomery finished with 17 rushing attempts and three receptions. The veteran back scored on a low red zone carry, and also produced a 32 yard reception on schemed concept. While I don't love the Week 12 matchup for Montgomery versus the Jets defense, he still has RB2 value given the anticipated volume in the Bears run-heavy approach. -- Bowen

Amari Cooper, WR, Cleveland Browns: Cooper's 31.3 PPR points led all players in the early slate of games, as the wide receiver went to work on a Buffalo secondary that is struggling in coverage on the perimeter right now. Cooper logged two touchdown here, while catching 8-of-12 targets for 113 yards. With Deshaun Watson returning in Week 13, Cooper will get one more game with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback next Sunday versus the Bucs. I like the smooth route runner here as a high-end WR2 versus the Bucs single-high coverages. -- Bowen

Darius Slayton, WR, New York Giants: With four straight games of double-digit PPR production, keep Slayton on your list of potential streaming options depending on the weekly matchup. Sure, Slayton posted some late game stats on Sunday in the loss to the Lions. But he's also logged 16 receptions - with two scores - during this four game stretch. And we know he can get loose as a vertical target for quarterback Daniel Jones. Slayton and the Giants get the Cowboys next on Thanksgiving. You can play Slayton here in 12-14 team leagues in a game where the Giants could have to throw with more volume. -- Bowen

Juwan Johnson, TE, New Orleans Saints: The Saints tight end caught another touchdown on Sunday in the win over the Rams, giving him five total scores in his last four games. While there is no question that Johnson can be viewed as a touchdown dependent player at the position, he's posted double-digit PPR production in four of the last five games. Currently available in over 80% of ESPN leagues, Johnson will remain a top streaming option for me in the Week 12 matchup versus the 49ers. -- Bowen

George Pickens, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: The 18.3 fantasy points in the Week 11 loss to the Bengals were a season-high for Pickens. And the rookie has now caught a touchdown in two of his past four games. While I would love to see more volume here for Pickens (just 12 targets in his past three games), there's no question he has the ability to shake coverage and win at all three levels of the route tree. With a tougher Week 12 game versus the Colts' defense, Pickens will remain an upside WR3 in my rankings. -- Bowen

Samaje Perine, RB, Cincinnati Bengals: The week's biggest "Where did that come from?" Perine scored a career-best 30.2 PPR fantasy points, fueled in part by Joe Mixon's early exit due to concussion symptoms. As an aside, I had Perine for much of the season in a deep, 14-team league in which my running backs were decimated by injuries, needing to start him multiple times already ... and of all weeks to finally cut him, this was the one. The sting isn't quite so painful if you consider the Bengals' backup is rostered in only 3.6% of ESPN leagues and was started in 0.6%, so if you're one of the lucky ones who had him active, good for you! Perine probably deserves a larger role than he has, but this merely cements his value as a Mixon insurance policy -- and you might actually need one if the concussion protocol doesn't proceed smoothly. -- Cockcroft