Start or Sit These Players on Thursday Night to Win Week 11 Fantasy
There are those in the fantasy community that follow the “When in doubt, Thursday is out” philosophy. Thankfully I am not a member of that line of thinking, especially considering I write this article weekly.
There are certainly variables to consider when setting your weekly lineup that includes players scheduled to be in action on a Thursday. First and foremost, not unlike any other matchup you need to watch the injury reports. If you have to choose between a questionable player and a player that is good to go of similar value, well you don’t need me to tell you which player to insert into your lineup.
One overlooked piece when setting a lineup that includes Thursday night action is your flex spots. Fill your positional spots on Thursday and leave your flex spots for Sunday. Lots can happen leading up to any given Sunday, and having the ability to be flexible with roster construction is an advantage you don’t want to give away.
Don’t let a Thursday matchup scare you. I get it, your fantasy assets are coming off a short week, but remember so are the defenses they matched up against. Good players typically are good players and good matchups are typically good matchups. The same can be said for the opposite. Long story short, my advice is don’t over think it. If player “X” was going to be in your lineup on Sunday, they should be in your lineup on Thursday as well.
With out further ado, let’s get into Thursday’s matchup between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons.
Mac Jones – Start
There was a lot of pre-draft hype surrounding Michael McCorkle “Mac” Jones. We are starting to see why. Jones has been solid this season, especially for a rookie QB with mediocre pass catchers. Mac Jones is 8th in total completions (223), 4th in completion percentage (69%), 17th in passing TDs (13), and 18th in interceptions (7). Entering Week 11, Jones sits at QB20, averaging 14.42 points per game.
The Atlanta Falcons are the 3rd worst fantasy defense against the quarterback. The Falcons have given up on average 21.8 points to the position after nine games. In those 9 games, they have yielded 256 passing yards a game and a total of 19 passing scores.
Mac Jones is a start this week, ideally as your second QB in a Super-flex or 2QB league. I have Jones ranked 16th and I can see a scenario where I would start him in a 12 team 1QB league as well.
Matt Ryan – Sit
Matt Ryan has been all over the fantasy map this season. His weekly output ranges from 29.02 points in Week 4, to 2.68 points a week ago. He enters Week 11 as QB18 with an average of 16.74 points per week.
The New England Patriots are the 2nd best fantasy defense against the quarterback. The Patriots have given up on average only 14.5 points to the position after ten games. In those 10 games they have held the opposing QB to 237 passing yards a game and a total of 13 passing scores.
I would recommend sitting Matt Ryan if possible. Ryan has seen his best pass catcher in Calvin Ridley step away from the game, and other than Kyle Pitts, there isn’t much to get excited about in this offense. I have Ryan ranked 23rd this week, and he is nothing more than a low-end QB2 in your Super-flex or 2QB leagues.
2. Running Back
New England Backfield
The New England backfield has been a challenge to figure out for what seems like forever. 2021 is no different. There are three viable options at the position in Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, and Brandon Bolden.
The Atlanta Falcons are the 4th worst fantasy defense against the running back position. The Falcons have given up on average 28.9 points to the position after nine games. In those 9 games, they have yielded 840 yards and 9 scores on the ground as well as an additional 476 yards and two scores via the pass.
Last week the bulk of the work went to Stevenson with Harris inactive due to a concussion. This week, Harris has been removed from the injury report and will be active on Thursday. Harris being active muddies the waters here once again. Prior to Harris being cleared, I had Stevenson ranked as a RB2 and Bolden as a RB3. I now have Harris ranked at RB27, Stevenson one spot behind him at 28, and Bolden down at RB47. I would prefer to avoid this backfield altogether. I do understand with bye weeks and injuries to a thin position that may not be possible, especially in this juicy match-up.
In 2020, Mike Davis stepped in for the injured Christian McCaffrey in Carolina and finished the season as a top-12 RB. Signing in Atlanta it appeared that Davis was going to have the backfield all to himself. Entering Week 11, Davis has disappointed, sitting at RB41 with 74.4 PPR points. Davis started off with double digit fantasy production in 5 straight and has hit that mark just once since. Meanwhile, Cordarrelle Paterson has posted 158.60 PPR points season to date. If your league has him designated as a RB he is RB9 entering Week 11, and WR8 if your league has him labeled as a WR.
The New England Patriots are the middle of the road against the opponents backs this season. They are giving up the 13th most points per game to the position season to date (24.6). In 10 games, however, the Pats have only allowed 3 touchdowns to the running back, two on the ground and one via the pass. This defense has gotten better against the run as the season has progressed.
Patterson injured his ankle in Week 10, and it’s looking like he will be a game time decision. If I had to bet, it would be that he doesn’t play. If CP misses this weeks action, it brings Wayne Gallman into play with Davis. Say what you will about Wayne Gallman, but the man has produced when given the opportunity in the past. I have Davis and Gallman both ranked as flex plays this week, Davis at RB40 and Gallman at RB43. Once again I would prefer to sit this entire backfield if you can. If by chance CP plays, he would be a back-end RB2 for me likely in around RB22.
3. Wide Receiver
New England Wide Receivers
At first glance into the Patriots wide receiver room, there doesn’t appear to be much to get excited about here. After a second look there still isn’t but there is some fantasy relevance. Entering Week 11, Kendrick Bourne leads the way at WR32, followed by Jakobi Meyers at 33, and Nelson Agholor slides in at WR57. N’Keal Harry, for you last remaining truthers, is WR136.
The Atlanta Falcons are the 11th worst fantasy defense against the wide receiver position. The Falcons have given up on average 37.2 points to the position after nine games. In those 9 games, they have yielded 1,387 yards and 13 scores.
Interestingly enough, Bourne has been the 14th highest scoring WR since Week 6, ahead of WRs like Mike Evans, Justin Jefferson and Marquise Brown. Meyers during this timeframe has been his usual self at WR36. Despite the favorable match-up, I have Meyers at WR34, Bourne as WR37, and Agholor at WR66. I would expect the Pats to get up early in this one and run all over the Falcons with the lead.
Atlanta Wide Receivers
When WR Calvin Ridley announced he was stepping away from the game, it became abundantly clear that the Falcons don’t have much else at the WR position. Since Ridley left at the start of Week 8, Olamide Zaccheaus leads the way at WR39, followed by Tajae Sharpe, Russell Gage, Frank Darby, and Christian Blake. Gage, who was WR37 last season, has 13.40 points since Ridley stepped aside, and they all came in Week 9.
The New England Patriots are the 7th best fantasy defense against the wide receiver position. The Patriots have given up on average 31.5 points to the position after nine games. In those 10 games, they have yielded 1,422 yards and 9 scores.
This is pretty simple in my opinion: sit all Falcons WRs this week. Russell Gage at WR61 is my highest ranked Falcon.
4. Tight End
Hunter Henry – Start
During the 2021 offseason, the New England Patriots added TE Jonnu Smith, and a day later they added TE Hunter Henry. I fully expected the Patriots to use Jonnu all over the field and as one of their better pass catching options, with Hunter Henry doing damage in the red zone. Jonnu has been a bust, and Henry had delivered as I expected, in fact he has exceeded my expectations. Jonnu enters Week 11 as the TE29, while Double H has quietly climbed up to TE4 on the season.
Atlanta is allowing 12.4 points a week to the TE, and that is a number that Henry should hit this week. He is my TE7 this week and a must start in my opinion. Jonnu Smith should remain on your bench if he hasn’t been dropped. Jonnu enters this week as my TE44.
Kyle Pitts – Sit
With the departure of Calvin Ridley, rookie TE Kyle Pitts is the Falcons best option in the passing game. He is on pace to finish as a top-12 TE this season, currently sitting at TE6 averaging 11.8 PPR points a game. If Pitts finishes his season inside the top-12, he will become the 3rd rookie TE since 2010 to accomplish this feat.
The New England Patriots enter this week as the 5th best against the TE, yielding on average 8.6 points a week to the position. The matchup isn’t ideal and if that wasn’t enough, the Patriots are notorious for taking their opponents best player away. Unless I haven’t been clear, the Falcons best player is Kyle Pitts. I know it’s hard to sit this guy, but I recommend that you do if possible. I have Kyle Pitts ranked at TE15 this week.
Thank you for reading Start or Sit These Players on Thursday Night to Win Week 11 Fantasy.
For all your start/sit questions be sure to reach out to me on Twitter @RotoHeatSully.
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