It's Week 11 of the fantasy football season. Thanksgiving is just a few days away. Soon it will be Black Friday, then December and the end-of-year holiday season.
So it was about time Trevor Lawrence joined the party.
Lawrence was just about perfect in Sunday's 34-14 romp over the Titans. He completed 262 yards on 24-for-32 passing without a turnover, and he accounted for all of Jacksonville's touchdowns — two rushing, two throwing. It added up to a 32-point haul in Yahoo basic scoring, the first time Lawrence has made it past 20 points all year.
The highlights are pretty. Lawrence had ample time to throw (he was sacked just once) and the throws were accurate, the decisions crisp. Roll the tape, see what you make of it.
The Lawrence comeback intersects with Calvin Ridley's blowup game. Ridley snagged 7-of-9 targets for 103 yards and two scores, and added an 18-yard run just for fun. The Jacksonville coaching staff talked Ridley up all week, knowing he could find operating room against a spotty Tennessee secondary. And fantasy managers might have been oddly comforted by the return of Zay Jones; coincidence or not, Ridley's best stuff this year has come when Jones is on the field. Sunday's touchdowns broke a five-game scoring drought for Ridley.
If you coveted Jacksonville production in this game, you needed to be on the Lawrence-to-Ridley stack. Christian Kirk was quiet on six targets (3-48-0), Evan Engram continued his end-zone allergy season (4-29-0) and Travis Etienne (14-52 rushing, 3-7 receiving) was kept out of the end zone, too. To be blunt, Etienne's strong fantasy season has been largely about touchdown deodorant. He's under four yards a carry, and his yards per touch is down about a yard from last year. If Etienne isn't spiking, fantasy managers aren't happy.
Nonetheless, Lawrence is set up for a fun showdown game next week, heading to Houston to match throws against rookie sensation C.J. Stroud. After that, it's a tricky road — Cincinnati, at Cleveland, Baltimore. But if you need Lawrence for fantasy purposes, you have to like the reemerging chemistry with Ridley. For the Jaguars to be a major AFC threat, they need their X-receiver to win on the outside.
The Lawrence and Ridley narrative fit the overall Week 11 theme, where comeback players were everywhere. Big names like Tony Pollard, Saquon Barkley, DJ Moore and Davante Adams had their strongest showings in weeks.
I suppose we should be somewhat muted on Pollard — an 80-yard day against Carolina isn't worthy of a parade. But Pollard scored his first touchdown since Week 1, and it was on a physical, extra-effort run. He handled 16 touches for the game. And Thursday Pollard draws another beatable matchup, the Washington defense.
Barkley torched those Commanders on Sunday and sparked the New York upset, racking up 140 total yards (14-83, 4-57) and a couple of receiving touchdowns. It's easily Barkley's best game of the year, and pushed him to the top of the Week 11 running back board. With the Giants looking like a legitimate NFL team (Tommy DeVito took an absurd nine sacks but also kept the offense moving), Barkley maintains his set-and-forget fantasy status. He gets the Patriots at home next week.
Adams didn't break the game in Week 11 (7-82-1), but it's encouraging to see him produce with new quarterback Aidan O'Connell. Adams absorbed 13 targets at Miami; no other Raider had more than seven.
Moore's snappy 7-96-1 line at Detroit came with a returning quarterback, Justin Fields. The Bears didn't make good on their upset attempt, but Fields was mostly a positive, throwing for 169 yards, running for 104 more and taking just two sacks. He was not intercepted and had a late fumble to end the game.
For Adams, it was his best game and first touchdown since Week 3. Moore, his first spike since Week 5.
There's plenty of room for more comeback stories in Week 12. The entire NFL plays during Thanksgiving week, with games on four different days. Get your tables set and your pies in the oven.
• There are reasons why some receivers excel with scoring touchdowns, while others don't. We've seen it with Courtland Sutton the last two weeks — excellent boundary awareness (the ridiculous catch at Buffalo) and leaping ability with the ability to high-point the ball (the game-winning score against Minnesota). And Sutton is also the only Denver receiver Russell Wilson seems to click with, unless you count Samaje Perine's occasional seven-yard catches out of the backfield. Don't fear Sutton's red-zone conversion rate, lean into it.
• I still like Javonte Williams as a player, but his low score Sunday night was a stinger. He's unlikely to have a huge receiving role so long as the other backs in Denver stay healthy, and the Broncos offense isn't efficient enough to support a bunch of goal-line plunges. Williams still has plausible support value, but I was hoping he could be a set-and-forget guy down the stretch. I'm scrapping that idea.
• Joshua Dobbs is a much better fantasy quarterback than real-life quarterback. That's no knock on the player, the person or the story. He's smart, competitive as hell, uber-athletic. And surviving two team changes is nothing short of miraculous. But he needs the rushing backboard to save his fantasy score most of the time. Thankfully, it's happened enough that we can project it weekly.
• You can't blame the Steelers for playing as they are. They have to hide Kenny Pickett, try to win ugly, lean into the running game. This makes all of their receivers unplayable, no matter what we think of them in a vacuum. The Steelers have been slow to increase Jaylen Warren's role, but he's about even with Najee Harris now, and if Warren's even, he's leaving. Warren will be the proactive play forward; Harris is still likely to get double-digit touches weekly, but as the secondary player.
• I was shocked to realize Zach Charbonnet's Yahoo rostership was under 50% when the Sunday games kicked off. Obviously that tag is about to spike, with Kenneth Walker hurt and Seattle facing a quick Thursday turnaround.
Sometime in late October or early November (at the latest), your fantasy roster should be less about finding support players who can help during bye weeks and more about lottery tickets who are one injury away from being automatic starters. Charbonnet was always high on the contingency-upside list. The goal is to collect some of these players before there's an all-out FAB frenzy over them.
• Puka Nacua was the early-season rookie shocker at receiver, and I still like him, but I wouldn't be surprised if Tank Dell passed Nacua by the end of the year. And Dell's playing with a better quarterback, too. C.J. Stroud knows Dell is constantly open; he's targeted his fellow rookie 35 times in the last three weeks. Dell is also picking up occasional rushing attempts.
• It's not a sin to be the fourth-best skill player on the loaded 49ers, but that's what Deebo Samuel is. Brandon Aiyuk is a better technical receiver. George Kittle is more explosive downfield and a more difficult matchup. Christian McCaffrey is one of the last remaining bell cows. Samuel is no longer a destination fantasy player so long as his teammates all stay healthy; he's a reactive WR3, not a proactive WR2.
• Jared Goff played about as bad as one could for most of the afternoon, but he was super down the stretch and Detroit stole a game it should have lost. The usage in Motown is so fantasy friendly — you can start David Montgomery or Jahmyr Gibbs confidently (I even know some managers who used both of them, which is plausible), Amon-Ra St. Brown is a target hog right off the bus, and Sam LaPorta is a good tight end in a messy year for tight ends. The Lions do not mess with lesser backs, the quarterback doesn't run, the support receivers don't command heavy target shares. The Lions know where their bread is buttered.
• I love the Dolphins speed like everyone does, but their primary backs are all undersized — you hold your breath with every carry. A thumper like D'Onta Foreman would have been the perfect deadline addition. Miami didn't want to give Raheem Mostert 22 carries against the physical Raiders, but the early De'Von Achane injury forced Mostert into that workload. Like the Dolphins, fantasy managers have to accept that Achane, for all his breathtaking ability, has no weekly floor.
• Nobody's ever going to proactively bench Stefon Diggs, but it's interesting that the Broncos and Jets both erased him in back-to-back weeks. He had 620 receiving yards after six weeks; he's had 275 since, or 55 a game. You didn't draft Diggs to give you Sammy Hagar numbers.
• Marquise Brown is still gobbling up air yards, but too often for him, they're "prayer yards." He's all halfcourt shots, not enough layups. You'd never know Kyler Murray and Brown played together in college. Brown can score 20-plus points in any week, but the single-digit score is still the way to bet.