The Shop was buzzing Monday. Some guys were happy. Some were sad. Some were downright salty.
Over the years, I’ve seen weeks like Week 8, but in a year that has seen so many fantasy first-rounders and blue-chip picks by and large suck out, this year’s one-week explosion came at a critical time of the season. A lot of teams are going to be crippled as 12 teams take the next two weeks off. Everybody, from those of us in the rarified air of 7-1 or 6-2 or those struggling at 3-5, 2-6 or worse.
They needed points. Honey hush, did they come. The scores weren’t that unusual. But, it was the severity of the big games – the really big games – that came popping up. Some were expected. Just as many weren’t. It was league-wide. It was rampant. And too many of them were mired of fantasy benches.
Scores like we saw in the 15 games played weren’t all that unusual. The massive individual days that came out it was.
At quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger led the hit squad by throwing for 522 yards and six touchdowns – one of the most destructive fantasy days in league history. There were three guys who lit up the sky with 400 or more passing yards in losses – Aaron Rodgers (418 yards, 1 TD passing and 1 TD rushing), Nick Foles (411-2) and Andrew Luck (440-3). Tom Brady, who had been left for dead in a lot of leagues, went off for 354 yards and five TDs. Drew Brees had one of his usual days (311-3) and three others had three TD passes – Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Jay Cutler. Even ratty Kyle Orton went off for four touchdowns. It was a crazy scoring week for quarterbacks, but it was far from done.
At running back, Arian Foster led the way, rushing 20 times for 151 yards, catching four passes for 22 yards and scoring three TDs. Matt Forte’s Bears got bum-rushed, but he ran for 114 yards and caught six passes for 54 yards and a touchdown. Jamaal Charles only had 17 touches (less than Knile Davis) in the Chiefs blowout win, but he gained 117 yards in total offense and scored two TDs. Mark Ingram had a career day, rushing 24 times for 172 yards and a touchdown. Even in the losing cause Sunday night, Eddie Lacy ran for just 59 yards, but caught eight passes for 123 yards. Chris Ivory was coming off a huge Monday night game and, despite having just 43 yards on 13 carries, he scored two touchdowns. Even current slug Lorenzo Taliaferro made tens of fantasy owners happy. He had just seven carries for 27 yards, but two of them went for touchdowns and he added 47 yards on two receptions.
It was even crazier at wide receiver. There were some highly thought of wide receivers that end up in weekly lineups that had solid days, but in Crazy 8, you didn’t see names like Julio Jones or Calvin Johnson or Jordy Nelson or Demaryius Thomas or Brandon Marshall among the leaders. The hits just kept on coming and they were provided by some of the usual suspects like Jeremy Maclin (12 catches, 187 yards, two touchdowns), Andre Brown (10-133-2) and Randall Cobb (5-126-1), but the big news came from the mid-level to low-level guys.
Emmanuel Sanders had just one touchdown coming into Thursday’s game before he blew up (9-120-3). A lot of owners had given up on Larry Fitzgerald before he dropped the hammer on Philly (7-160-1). If not a premature celebration, Sammy Watkins monster numbers (3-157-1) would have included another touchdown. I have T.Y. Hilton in my league had he came up huge (6-155-1).
But it was the lower level guys that really broke some fantasy backs with a sickening crunch. Rookie Brandin Cooks is always a risky play because Brees spreads the ball around so much, but he blew up (6-94-1 receiving and a rushing touchdown). Golden Tate has been filling in for Megatron but, in London on Sunday, he was Megatron himself (7-151-1). Anyone who said they were playing Brandon LaFell was probably lying, but his numbers were huge as well (11-124-1). The same was true for fantasy bench fodder Martavis Bryant (5-83-2) and John Brown (5-119-1). Either you were a huge hunch player or those last few guys were sitting on your bench when their points came fast and furious.
Even some veteran tight ends got in the mix, including Rob Gronkowski (9-141-3), Antonio Gates (5-54-2), Heath Miller (7-112-1) and Martellus Bennett (6-95-1). To make things even worse in the scoring frenzy was that 10 different kickers scored 10 or more points.
If the NFL was looking for fantasy excitement, they got it in Week 8. The points came early on Thursday night and never let up. If that’s what fans want, they got it big time this week. With six teams on bye each of the next weeks, it may be a long time before we see the kind of insane fantasy scoring we saw last week, but it was once for the books that won’t soon be forgot.
I don’t know about your league, but in ours, it was like watching the final half hour of Rocky – big shots thrown, big shots taken. It got so bad I had to tell the other barbers to get a razor count. It was a rough Monday. Good for business, but bad for half the league. In some cases, painfully bad.
Cut me, Mick.
- It seems like the Broncos have their offense in such cruise control that Peyton Manning can pick and choose who he wants to make a fantasy backbreaker from one week to the next. Early on, it was Julius Thomas. Then it was Demaryius. Last week, Emmanuel Sanders was welcomed to the club. Can a monster day from Wes Welker be far behind?
- In some leagues, Calvin Johnson and A.J. Green were the first two wide receivers to come off the board. Between them, they have caught just 39 passes, scored four touchdowns and left owners struggling for replacement guys to step in.
- Suddenly the AFC East doesn’t look as ratty as it typically does. Most people think the Patriots clinch the division by Thanksgiving. While they’re riding a four-game winning streak and are 6-2, Buffalo (5-3) and Miami (4-3) are both on their heels and trying to chase them down. They aren’t going away as quietly as hoped.
- The AFC North is even better. All four teams have a winning record and that ridiculous tie when The Nuge killed and grilled a field goal may come back to haunt the Bengals in the end, because the only team they have a tie-breaker with right now is Carolina.
- Don’t look now, but in their last 17 games, Arizona has a record of 14-3.
- Minnesota may look back years from now as the game they turned a corner. They had two picks in the first round and used them to take Anthony Barr and Teddy Bridgewater. In Sunday’s overtime win, Bridgewater led the Vikings into field goal range in the final seconds to send the game to overtime and Barr pulled off the rare Strip 6 to score the winning touchdown on the first play of OT. Revisionist history likely won’t remember that it was a 2-5 team beating a 1-6 team with JV squads.
THE RAZOR’S EDGE
10. Cowboys Thrown By Colt – The Cowboys were supposed to put the boots to the hapless Redskins and take charge in the NFC at 7-1 and erase all the classic Romo moments that have haunted the franchise. Instead, they get beat by Colt McCoy, who kid who doesn’t look he has starting shaving yet. Classic Romo! How ‘bout them Cowboys!
9. The Champ Is Here? – The defending champion Seahawks got back over .500 on Sunday amid reports that Beast Mode won’t be wanted after this season. If not for an 80-yard drive that produced the game winning touchdown with just 53 seconds left on the clock, the champs would be 3-4. Fortunately for them the get the Raiders (a.k.a. America’s Homecoming Opponent) at home next week, so there’s time to right the ship, but it’s a bad sign when the Hawks aren’t spanking easy opponents and going down to the wire with less-than-stellar teams like the Rams and Panthers.
8. I Didn’t Get the Memo – NFL referee Craig Wrolstad proved Sunday that it’s not only players who don’t understand overtime rules, even though it was 40 years ago when the rules were first instituted. In Sunday’s Tampa Bay-Minnesota game, the Bucs got the ball to start overtime, but, on the first offensive play, Minnesota rookie Anthony Barr stripped Bucs rookie Austin Seferian-Jenkins, scooped up the loose ball and scored a touchdown to end the game…except for Wrolstad. Five minutes went by before the game was declared over. Not because the play was under review, but because Wrolstad thought that you kick an extra point following an overtime touchdown. Hopefully his crew doesn’t get assigned a playoff game to botch a matchup between two quality teams.
7. Butt Ugly But Effective – I understand the concept of throwback uniforms. It’s just another revenue stream NFL owners have to pimp out product. There are some I like – the powder blue Chargers and Orange Julius Buccaneers uniforms are retro-cool, but the Pittsburgh uniforms are just hideous. What does is say? I’m a King Bee, baby, buzzin’ ‘round my hive? For an organization that wouldn’t even break down to get decals on both sides of their helmets, it seems like a couple of times a year you see those awful looking uniforms that look like they were made from scraps of other clothes. But, as long as they’re winning when they wear them, they may become a fashion statement we see more of.
6. The Eagle Hasn’t Landed – There’s no shame in losing at Arizona. Over the last couple of seasons, going into the Valley of the Sun is like going into Death Valley. But it was how the Eagles lost that was important. To start the third quarter, Philly had a chance to get a three-and-out to get Arizona off the field in a hurry. Facing a third-and-10 from their own 20, the Eagles were looking to change momentum. They did, but for all the wrong reasons, as Larry Fitzgerald caught an 80-yard touchdown to give Arizona a 14-7 lead on a three-play, 80-yard drive. After the Eagles scored the go-ahead field goal to take a 20-17 lead with 1:56 left, their secondary again laid an egg, allowing the Cardinals to put together another three-play, 80-yard drive that was highlighted by a 75-yard TD to a man named John Brown (ask me again and I’ll knock you down). This was a game that the Eagles had control of and let it slip away on a pair of huge mistakes that could come back to bite them if they have to go on the road to Arizona again in January.
5. London Calling – Mike Smith is running out of excuses. When his Falcons started off 2-1 with two divisional wins, it looked as though the bad times in Hotlanta were over. Not so fast, playah. Not only have the Falcons lost five straight, but they’re now 0-3 against the NFC North with the toughest opponent (at Green Bay in December) still to come. Playing in London on Sunday, the “home team” Falcons took a 21-0 lead to halftime and Georgians weren’t feeling so bad about skipping church. God got his revenge, however, as Detroit scored 22 unanswered points on five scoring drives for a 22-21 win. If things don’t change fast, Mr. Smith may be going to the unemployment line before the Green Bay game happens.
4. London Calling II – The NFL announced Sunday that the expansion into England is going to continue. What goes around, comes around I guess. At first, it was a one-game bit to play at Wembley Stadium. Whether to gauge interest or nor, it had an impact. One game went to two games last year and three games this year. Next year, it’s going to five games. It seems like only a matter of time before the London experiment turns into a London NFL franchise – or a Sunday morning football revival meeting. Let’s just get it over with and just send the Jaguars, Raiders or Rams over there. The way those teams are playing they won’t be missed.
3. Bear Season Is Open – The fact the Bears haven’t won a home game this year is bad enough, but when the Patriots hung 51 points on them Sunday and called off the dogs in the fourth quarter is a really bad sign of things to come. It was bad enough when division rival Green Bay beat them on their home turf by 21 points, but to let the Patriots score 31 points in the second quarter alone is brutal. To add insult to stupidity, Lamarr Houston did an idiotic sack dance with his team down by 30 points and tore his ACL and will miss the rest of the season. It doesn’t get much worse than that. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, Chicago.
2. We Are the Champions? Indianapolis and Green Bay have held sway in their respective divisions for the last few years and both of them were riding winning streaks – four for Green Bay and five for the Colts. They were both heading into hostile territory, the Packers against the 2-4 Saints and Indy against the 4-3 Steelers. But, championship teams find a way to win on the road in the regular season so they don’t have to go on the road in January. What happened? They combined to give up 95 points and both of them lost by 21. Great teams lose. Not too often do great teams get trucked like that.
1. Ryan’s Hope – The Jets may have hit a new low. Geno Smith has sucked out loud for two years now and the Jets decided to keep giving him a shot. But, when he threw three picks against the Bills in the first quarter of Sunday’s game, Michael Vick got the call and looked like he hadn’t prepared again. Sexy Rexy named Vick the starter next week, saying he gave the offense “a spark.” Really? Last time I checked, he completed 18 of 36 passes for just 153 yards, threw an interception and fumbled four times, losing two of them. It that’s what qualifies as a spark in New York, keep Rex away from flammable liquids.