NFL Real/ Not Real: Week 11

Welcome to the eleventh edition of the “Real or Not Real” article for the 2016 NFL season. In this piece, Ricky Sanders will examine whether the hype and/or recent production surrounding certain players warrants deeming them as “for real” or remaining skeptical and considering them “not for real.”

Here are Ricky’s thoughts surrounding players who opened some eyeballs with their Week 11 performances one way or another:

Blake Bortles, Jaguars – Rostering Blake Bortles is accepting to the fact you will be relying on garbage time production in order to put his day over the top. When the team inevitably gets down, Bortles ability to fight back and throw TDs will make or break his day. Sometimes it works out and sometimes, well, it does not. This week was a prime example with the team listed as 5.5 point underdogs in a dome against one of the league’s worst passing defenses. Not only did the Lions rank dead last in Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) against the pass but they had allowed the second most fantasy points to opposing QBs. Yet, when it was all over, Bortles did not make the most of the opportunity and failed to reach 15.50 fantasy points for the third time six games. With his long delivery, bad offensive line and unreliable (at least in terms of drops) receiving core, Bortles’ game is volatile in nature. With the team often trailing, or needing to be playing from behind for Bortles to succeed, game flows adds even another element of volatility. This week proved Bortles is a risky proposition in cash games every single week which is pretty much to be expected from a guy ranking 27th in completion percentage. After a nice two game stretch during Weeks 8 and 9, Bortles has reverted back to the frustrating player he has always been. Verdict: Not For Real

Rob Kelley, Redskins – How did an undrafted rookie who rushed just 65 times for 3.6 yards per carry (YPC) and caught only six passes in his final season at Tulane turn into the lead back for the Redskins? It was long and difficult journey but here we are in Week 11 and Rob Kelley just torched one of the better run defenses in football for 134 yards on the ground and three rushing TDs. Kelley, who ran a terrible 4.68 40-yard dash and 7.19 3-cone at the combine, became one of just three backs to enjoy success against the Packers defense this season along with Ezekiel Elliott and DeMarco Murray (two of the game’s best). The natural question that arises is, “Is Kelley for real or is his emergence some sort fluke?” In three consecutive games now (his only three games carrying the load), Kelley has topped 4.0 YPC in each and has not lost a fumble. Meanwhile, Matt Jones only topped 4.0 YPC thrice in seven games as the top back in the rotation, and lost fumbles twice during that span, which has been an issue dating back to last season. Mostly due to his inability to hang onto the football, Jones has been deemed a healthy scratch in back-to-back games and Kelley’s performances are only getting stronger by the week. Although he is the unlikeliest of candidates to have gotten to this point, there is no evidence suggesting this is a fluke. Heading into Week 11, Kelley had lost yardage on just two out of 60 total carries and obviously he did not do much going backward on Sunday Night Football either. It feels dirty to crown a guy seemingly devoid of football talent as having made it but Kelley is in a great situation with a solid passing offense and respectable offensive line complementing/protecting him. In his current situation, referring to him as a poor man’s Marshawn Lynch is not a stretch and he is a borderline RB1 moving forward. Verdict: For Real

Rashad Jennings, Giants – On Sunday, Rashad Jennings gained a season-high 129 yards from scrimmage, caught a season-high five passes and rushed for his second TD of the season. On the surface, this feels like an incredible step forward and moral victory for a player who has only topped 27 yards rushing twice before this week. This matchup always projected well for Jennings and the rest of the Giants’ offense because the Bears were one of the few teams whose time of possession rated almost as poorly as the Giants themselves. In other words, they should have been projected to possess the ball more than usual in this contest. When all said and done, the Giants possessed the ball for 29:31 or nearly two minutes more than their season average. In most games, they will be facing teams who are much more capable than the Bears and will not have this luxury. Therefore, Jennings’ big performance, while encouraging, clearly was an outlier as opposed to the norm. Jennings will need to do the same sort of thing against a superior team before he can be moved up a notch in terms of expectations. Verdict: Not For Real

Rishard Matthews, Titans – Fantasy Mansion tweeted something incredibly interesting on Sunday afternoon and it is worth revisiting. He basically said this year’s Doug Baldwin has been crowned and that man is Rishard Matthews after his nine reception (REC), 122 yard day against the Colts. This marked the sixth time in his last seven game Matthews had either eclipsed 100 yards receiving or scored a TD. Since Week 4, he has failed to register double-digit fantasy points just once. He really is emerging as a reliable option on a weekly basis although he is still unlikely to sniff Baldwin’s 14 TDs. Quietly, Marcus Mariota is fantasy’s QB4 so the passing offense as a whole has proved to be respectable. With this monster performance, Matthews has officially upgraded from a red zone threat to a borderline WR1 in an offense that is featuring him at this point. The snap counts only confirm this fact as Matthews played 65 snaps to Tajae Sharpe/Kendall Wright’s 37 and Harry Douglas’s 12. Welcome to the limelight, Mr. Matthews. Verdict: For Real

Jared Cook, Packers – Jared Cook is such a fantasy troll. The guy went from catching exactly one pass in three of his last four games to TE1 this week on the heels of six RECs for 105 yards and a TD. In an Aaron Rodgers led offense, especially one devoid of a running game, the TE is a very intriguing spot and yet neither Richard Rodgers nor Cook has emerged for more than a brief relevance at any point this year. Unfortunately, this has been the case with Cook for his entire career even after being drafted by the Titans in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft with extremely high hopes. Cook is more talented than Rodgers but there is a plethora of mouths to feed in this offense: Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Ty Montgomery, James Starks, Christine Michael (soon), Cook and Rodgers…probably in that order. Sure Cook out-snapped Rodgers 42-21 this week, his largest margin in terms of percentage of the season (with both healthy), but there is just no consistency to be had here. The big week was great, and he certainly opened eyes for future GPP consideration, but he is still the same troll from year’s past (just in a different uniform). Verdict: Not For Real