Each week, above our full fantasy rankings, SI.com fantasy writer Michael Beller and 4for4 writer John Paulsen will have a brief discussion about some of the most intriguing rankings questions. Scroll down for our full rankings at every position.
Michael Beller: John, last week we talked about how the absence of a big-time wide receiver would affect an entire offense and, if the Bengals' first game without A.J. Green was any indication, it's going to be an ugly second half in Cincinnati. Unfortunately, we have to do the same this week. Cooper Kupp tore his ACL in the Rams' Week 10 win over the Seahawks, bringing an abrupt end to his season. How do you think the offense will adjust without Kupp? How much of a hit does Jared Goff's fantasy stock take? Will Josh Reynolds or the tight ends step up, or do you think this will even more rest on the shoulders of Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods?
John Paulsen: Kupp missed Weeks 7 and 8, and was only targeted once on a 38% snap rate in Week 6, so we have some data to examine when trying to predict what this passing attack will look like without him.
From a playing-time standpoint, Reynolds is the big winner. He played 62% of the snaps in Week 6, and then his snap rate was 84% or more in Week 7 and Week 8. He didn’t do much with that extra playing time until Week 8, when he caught three passes for 42 yards and two touchdowns on five targets against the Packers. I view him as a WR4-type with Kupp sidelined, and I would definitely look to add him if I had any issues at receiver.
Neither Cooks nor Woods saw a significant increase in targets in the Rams’ Kupp-less games, but intrinsically it makes sense that their stock is boosted a bit. They were already big parts of the offense, though, so it will be difficult for their usage to increase all that much.
The tight ends—Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett—did not see an uptick in targets or playing time with Kupp limited or out, and there’s little reason to expect that to change with Kupp out for good.
Interestingly, Goff’s numbers were down significantly across the board in those three games. He averaged 348 yards, 2.43 touchdowns and a 9.94 YPA in seven games with Kupp, and just 233/1.67/8.02 in the three aforementioned games. I should mention, however, that this is mostly driven by an unusually bad game—201 yards, no touchdowns, 7.2 YPA—in Denver in Week 6. He was decent against the 49ers in Week 7, and shredded the Packers in Week 8 without Kupp at his disposal.
Todd Gurley averaged an additional 4.1 touches (all carries) in the games that Kupp was limited or out, which is interesting but not all that actionable. To sum up, I would look to add Reynolds, but wouldn’t expect him to post Kupp-like numbers.
Beller: Yeah, we’re generally in agreement on the Rams, here. I think I’m giving Cooks and Woods a bit more of a boost than you are, but I agree that there’s only so much more room for their roles to grow.
Let’s move over to Green Bay, where the fantasy community and Packers fans got the game they've been impatiently awaiting for weeks, Aaron Jones ran for 145 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, and caught three passes for 27 yards in the Packers' Week 10 win over the Dolphins. Where do you slot Jones for the rest of the season? Do you think he's RB1 material?
Paulsen: Has Mike McCarthy finally come to his senses? It would appear so.
I wrote in last week’s Sneaky Starts column that Week 10 may be Jones’s coming out party, and that’s what happened, so I’m going to try not to break my arm patting myself on the back. He set a season high in snap rate (74%), touches and receptions, and made the most of the extra work. Meanwhile, Jamaal Williams played on a season-low 25% of the snaps and only had three touches (all carries), another season-low. Notice a pattern?
If Jones is going to get this sort of run, he’ll be a rest-of-season fantasy RB1. My only concerns are McCarthy’s inability to get out of his own way as a play-caller/head coach, and the up-and-down nature of Jones’s strength of schedule down the stretch. In terms of adjusted fantasy points allowed, he has three matchups in the top seven—Seattle, Minnesota and Chicago—and three in the bottom eight—Arizona, Atlanta and the Jets—so it’s possible that his fantasy production fluctuates wildly the rest of the way. The good news is that with a 15- to-18-touch workload in an offense led by Aaron Rodgers, his extreme efficiency as a runner (6.8 YPC, leading the league) and his newfound involvement as a receiver, he should have plenty of opportunity to score fantasy points, even in bad matchups. The key will be for McCarthy to stick with Jones, even if he struggles early in games.
Beller: Given that I’m heavily invested in Jones across my fantasy portfolio, and you’re a Packers fan, I know that we’re both hoping McCarthy has indeed come to his senses. With that, let’s get into our full Week 11 fantasy football rankings.