Back in September, I wrote a bit about novelty bias, our inherent preference for everything new. In fantasy football, this applies mostly to rookies, but can also affect our assessment of players on new teams (Allen Robinson), with new training modes (Daniel Jonesetc.) or less so when the player gets some other new upgrade (such as a better center or another QB).
Our brain tells us that this new person or situation might be the key to victory because part of the attraction of the novelty bias is that we don’t yet know how it’s going to end… and it hasn’t burned us out before. Novelty is opportunity, and novelty bias can be seen in every animal studied, even bacteria.
Around week five or six, perhaps—depending on the injury status of your imaginary lineup or goodbye week—the novelty might have worn off. Recruiting newcomers is fun and exciting, but they often leave first when they don’t have an immediate impact on fantasy. As intelligent people, we know that all that glitters is not gold. And we had to make tough choices to win in those weeks, many of us didn’t have the luxury of patiently waiting for talent and the opportunity to shine together.
This is completely normal. But if you’ve had the patience and ability to keep your newbies that long, you’ve finally received the promised reward in week 11.
Beginners tend to break through at different points, but it always seems around 11-12 weeks that we see a major turning point. Veteran injuries are piling up, teams with nothing to lose want to see what they just drafted, and others want to make sure their rookies are ready for bigger playoff roles.
Let’s take a look at some big rookie performances – and a few veteran surprises – from Week 11.
Isaiah Pacheco, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
After a busy pre-season, Pacheco has climbed the rosters in top ball tournaments, dynasty leagues and even deeper seasonal leagues. Leaders stubbornly held on Clyde Edwards-Heler to start the season, and given that they rely on Patrick Mahomes as well as Travis Kelsey to move the ball, it didn’t really hurt the team. Pacheco got the start a couple of weeks ago but has done nothing but disappoint those who trusted him.
However, it looked like Sunday Night Football could be a turning point for the newcomer. The Chargers are the cure for many running games, but Pacheco looked like a version of Kansas City. Tony Pollard. He is faster and more agile than the CEH, with better eyesight. He carried 15 times for 115 yards on the ground. I think Pacheco has the talent to be a fantasy asset, but I also think the Chiefs are a first pass team. The upcoming schedule is tight, but circle weeks 15 and 16 when the Chiefs play the Texans and Seahawks; Pacheco could be a fantasy playoff star again.
Sky Moore, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Adhering for a moment with the Chiefs, it was agreed that Kadarius Tony will have a great game with both Mekole Hardman as well as Juju Smith-Shuster on Sunday evening. However, Toney only saw one goal before leaving the game with a hamstring injury. Marquez Valdes-Scantling there was also a non-factor (one catch per four targets).
Instead, Moore got his biggest shot of the year. After hitting 14 targets in the first 10 weeks of the season, he saw six Sunday nights catching five passes for 63 yards. This could be the start of a breakout second half of the season for Moore, given that no KC wide receiver had Indeed caught (admittedly, Juju was built before the concussion) to fill Tyreke Hillshoes so far.
Trailon Burks, WR, Tennessee Titans
Burks was not entirely invisible at the start of the Titans’ season, as he averaged four goals per game during the first four weeks. He then missed four games with a toe injury. Since returning in week 10, Burks has seen 14 targets, of which he has caught 10. He had his first game of receiving over 100 yards on Thursday night in week 11.
Unfortunately, Tennessee ranks 30th in the league in assists per game. On a positive note, the vast majority of transmission attempts are directed towards the wide receivers of the Titans (as opposed to TE or RB). Expect some tough competition as people rush to hide the Burks ahead of the fantasy playoffs. His upcoming schedule is neither super-easy nor super-hard, but if his talent is unleashed, he can only improve his – and your – team.
Christian Watson, WR, Green Bay Packers
Last week we touched on his potential randomness after his electric 3-TD in week 10. I do it again after another random 2-TD at week 11. Watson caught four passes for 48 yards and scored two goals. This is an unstable scoring rate; if you remember my article on regression, it showed that even the best of the best wide receivers averaged one touchdown per 14 targets. Watson has scored five touchdowns on 14 targets in his last two games.
Yes, he’s worth holding onto and starting in the fantasy leagues, but expect a negative touchdown regression to overtake him soon.
George Pickens, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Pickens has been the Steelers’ leading receiver in two games since the team was away. We knew that Kenny Pickett cooked up with fellow rookie and twin Pickens earlier this season, and it looks like that relationship, temporarily scuttled by injury, has been rekindled. He fielded back-to-back double-figure fantasy games, but Pickens only caught seven passes for just over 100 yards and one touchdown. He also scored quickly in week 10.
Pass Steelers is a difficult game. On the one hand, Pickett has outstanding defense, has the second-highest completion percentage under pressure, and has dropped very few passes. On the other hand, he doesn’t make many deep passes and has a mediocre pass completion percentage (31.4%). His airborne yards per try is low at 3.11, and worst of all, he leads the league in passes intercepted per game (3.96).
However, I keep Pickens in the hope that Pickett will get better; he hasn’t thrown a pick since he got back from his date, which is a huge improvement.
Chris Olav, WR, New Orleans Saints
Olav is a rare rookie who immediately made an impact on the fantasy world of those lucky enough to draft him. The Saints’ offense this season has been disappointing, but Olav is one of the positives. He has a WR11 in PPR scoring despite only catching three touchdowns all season. Expect some positive TD regression from Olav going forward, and according to FantasyPros, he has the third best remaining schedule for WR.
Dameon Pierce, RB, Houston Texans
Like Olav, Pierce was a guy we trusted almost from the start. By Week 3, he regularly carried the ball over 20 times and was returning high efficiency and range, if not touchdowns. It’s worrying that in the last four games, he’s passed that 20-attempt mark only once, culminating in his worst effort of the season in Week 11: ten carries for eight yards and two receptions on three targets for nine yards. That’s too many written numbers.
I’m expecting a recovery from Pierce, but he can’t be the magic ticket to win leagues; his crime is a disaster. Davis Mills was sacked five times in Week 11 and only gained positive yards after two picks in the second half. Houston couldn’t stand the fight to save his life, and when it was finally close, Mills became Pierce’s vulture due to the rushing count. It’s been a gloomy day, but hopefully his worst fantasy performance is over.
Fast Hits Runner Back Edition
Jamaal Williams, Detroit Lions
Williams is the player everyone argues about every week, especially with D’Andre Swift becomes healthier. Then he goes and scores all the touchdowns again and we shake our heads. Williams currently leads the league in rushing touchdowns with 12 and is ahead of the likes of Jonathan Taylor, Naji HarrisDameon Pierce and Alvin Camara in fantasy PPR points per game. Note that he is not a pass catcher, he only has 12 targets in a season. I find it hard to believe that Amon-Ra Saint Brown and Swift will continue to fall at the yard line an infinite number of times in a game, but I said that six weeks ago as well.
The reason for Williams’ start is that he leads the league in red zone carries (34) and red zone scoring (11 of his 12 touchdowns). He’s just behind Austin Thanks. in Fantastic Red Zone Points (PPR), despite having only one goal in the red zone this season. It is clear that the Lions will come out with Williams on the goal line, so we should.
Samage Perine, Cincinnati Bengals
Perin played a great receiving role against the Steelers in a very exciting and competitive game, catching four passes for 52 yards and three touchdowns. Most likely, this will be the pinnacle of his fantasy career. Even Joe Mixon miss the next game against Tennessee, I’m in no hurry to spend all my FAAB on Perin. He’s been in the league long enough for us to know who he is and who isn’t. There will be no goodbyes in week 12, so next week everyone will have a better choice on RB or FLEX than on Perine. Mixon should be back against the Chiefs in Week 13, if not sooner.
Naji Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers
Lest we end Thanksgiving week on a sour note, Harris has finally done something!
I was supposed to start him in two leagues in week 11 and it was a pleasant surprise when he actually scored two goals. It also marked the second game in a row that he carried the ball 20 times, and the third time this season he saw six goals. I think the foot injury is over, and I think we can breathe a sigh of relief and expect decent results in the future. I’m not saying we’ll get to the value of the first round, but let’s hope it can stay in the double digits…