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Malcolm McMillan (@McLateralFF)
The Lateral Writer
Nothing like a Sunday of football to shatter all your preconceptions. Surely the Saints were going to be awful with Hill under center, right? Nope. Turns out it does not matter how talented the Falcons WR duo is, the team is still bad and that was overlooked going into Sunday. We went into the season thinking the Ravens would be a top defense, but after Sunday they are teetering on droppable. Luckily for those fantasy managers rostering the Ravens DST, you have a favorable schedule coming up. Unluckily for those with Titans on their roster, you may have missed out on some good fantasy production against the Ravens.
These were some of the more obvious takeaways, but other storylines have serious implications going forward. With QB Joe Burrow out for the year, can you play the Bengals skill players going forward? Are the Detriot Lions awful, or worse, unpredictable? Finally, is Kalen Ballage not only undroppable for your fantasy lineup, but playing his way into a permanent role with the Los Angeles Chargers? All this will be covered in Week 11 Sunday Storylines!
Week 11 Sunday Storylines
With Joe Burrow Out, Can You Trust The Bengals Rest-Of-Season?
First thing first, the Burrow injury sucks. The Bengals failed to provide him with a good offensive line, and now his exciting rookie season has come to an end. Unfortunately, the viability of Cincinnati's offensive talent may have come to an end as well. Ryan Finley looked awful under center, completing only three passes over five drives. Well, four passes if you count the game-ending interception. Granted, it was not like the offense looked amazing before Finley coming in, but the Bengals were winning 9-7 with Burrow under center. For fantasy purposes, it was basically Tyler Boyd and nobody else yesterday aside from A.J. Green's numbers being posted by a TD catch. With the Washington DST running all over the Bengals, it would not be a stretch to chalk this up to an under-prepared Finley coming into a bad situation.
Unfortunately, there is not much evidence to suggest this was anything outside the norm for Finley, who was so bad last year the Bengals benched him for Andy Dalton even though the Bengals were tanking for Burrow. With RB Joe Mixon on injured reserve, the only player from the Bengals that should be getting a start next week is Tyler Boyd, and that is only as a WR3/FLEX.
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What Is Wrong With the Lions?
That has to be a question on most people's minds after the Lions were shut out by P.J. Walker and the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. Most people would say that the answer is head coach Matt Patricia, and while they are probably correct, there is no quantitative evidence to support that other than the win-loss record, which at 4-6 is more mediocre than disastrous. Maybe it was D'Andre Swift being out? Everyone assumed (logically) that Adrian Peterson would have enough in the tank to run all over the awful Panthers run defense, but perhaps a more dynamic back was required. Or was it the absence of Swift and Golladay combined?
Sunday was the first time both were missing from the Lions gameday roster. The win-loss record with Golladay out is 1-4, and with Golladay in the lineup the Lions are 3-2. With both out they are obviously 0-1, but as long as the Lions had one of their two stars in the lineup they were 3-2 since coming out of the bye. It remains to be seen if Week 12 can increase the sample size to see what factors are hurting the Lions' current level of performance. Against the Texans at home, the Lions should (hopefully) have Swift back from the concussion protocol, the Golladay's return is still in doubt.
Will Ballage Remain the Chargers Number Two?
The Kalen Ballage revenge tour continued on Sunday, with the former Jets RB taking the lead role for the Chargers against New York. This marked the third week in a row that Ballage took the lead role for Chargers and the third straight week with double-digit production in PPR. The questions on everyone's lips are, can he make it four in a row? Can he keep it going the rest of the season? Has he worked his way into the role permanently?
If Austin Ekeler comes back, no. Ekeler is the lead back, will be the lead back, etc., and nobody disputes that. However, it does not seem likely that Ekeler will return until at least Week 13. So can Ballage keep the fill-in role and then become the new number two for the Chargers? With Troymaine Pope and Joshua Kelley still healthy and not supplanting Ballage, that leaves Justin Jackson as Ballage's competition for the role, and there is no evidence that Jackson has been any better in the lead role than Ballage. Given that Jackson is also out until Week 13, Ballage has two more weeks to really cement his position in Los Angeles. If he does, he has a shot to return for the Chargers next year, if he stumbles even a little, I think the contract situation in the Los Angeles backfield keeps Justin Jackson as the number two going into 2021.
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