BUMPS, BRUISES AND BOWOUTS
Emmanuel Sanders – Concussion
Julius Thomas – Ankle
Greg Jennings – Rib injury
Montee Ball – Reinjured groin
Jarius Wright – Hamstring
Calvin Johnson – Elbow
Ryan Mathews – Knee
Larry Fitzgerald – Knee
Ahmad Bradshaw – Leg
Dwayne Allen – Ankle
Julian Edelman – Ankle
Jordan Reed – Hamstring
A strange thing happened during week 11 of the NFL season. Teams stopped scoring. Right at a time when you are looking to secure or reach a playoff spot in your league, the touchdowns just went cold. While four teams were out on bye, that isn’t enough to explain why only three quarterbacks threw more than two touchdowns and no one scored more than three. Jonas Gray racked up four touchdowns but there were only four other rushing scores by running backs and only two receiving touchdowns. All combined, running backs accounted for just ten touchdowns and only five players were involved – Jonas Gray (4), Jamaal Charles (2), Eddie Lacy (2), Knile Davis (1) and Roy Helu (1). It was a week where you could count scoring running backs on one hand. Even tight ends served up seven different scorers.
Scoring was down all over the league but that is not entirely uncommon. Week 11 and week 12 rank as two of the lowest scoring weeks in most years and week 11 from 2012 had the second lowest touchdown total for running backs over the last five years with 14. It just hurts when you are trying to make up ground at the end of the fantasy regular season.
RED FLAGS AND WHITE TOWELS
Low scoring totals all over the league are bad enough but when coupled with what is happening in backfields, it makes wide receivers seem like a better investment.
The Patriots rode Jonas Gray to victory in Indianapolis to the tune of four touchdowns and 199 rushing yards on 38 carries. Shane Vereen was limited to only one carry despite gaining 18 yards. The third-year back is on his third NFL team and the entirety of his previous playing time came in the three weeks prior to this win over the Colts. But he only totaled 32 runs for 131 yards in those games and was coming off a 33-yard effort against the Broncos. Assumedly he’ll continue to start though Patriot rushers are notorious for appearing and disappearing. Gray faces the Lions, Packers, Chargers, Dolphins and Jets which all sport good rush defenses.
The Browns opted to start Isaiah Crowell this week and he gained 65 yards on 14 carries. But Terrance West was allowed five runs to cover 12 yards and Ben Tate ran twice for a net of a nine yard loss. This was Crowell’s first time as the primary back. West has taken the lead five times and Tate was the top runner in four games. With upcoming games against the Falcons, Bills and Colts there will be fantasy value created but you cannot rely on how it is produced from week to week.
Charles Sims now has two games under his belt as a Buccaneer but team owners who hoped to find gold have been disappointed. His first game saw an even workload with Bobby Rainey and gained just 23 yards on eight carries. In the win over the Redskins, Rainey was limited to only five runs for four yards but Sims produced only 36 yards on 13 runs. Doug Martin will return though to what role is unclear. But Sims has only this week’s matchup against the Bears as a softer defense before bumping into the Bengals, Lions, Panthers and Packers.
Ryan Mathews was out for seven games and returned to face the visiting Raiders. But he only gained 70 yards on 16 carries while Branden Oliver was still given 13 runs that totaled 36 yards. Both caught just one short reception in a game that should have been a fantasy bonanza. Oliver ran for 101 yards and one score in Oakland during week six. Less production, split in two and in a home game was just disappointing. Hard to expect bigger stats the next month while facing defenses of the Rams, Ravens, Patriots and Broncos.
Dwayne Allen left the Sunday night game with an ankle injury and while he was gone, Coby Fleener turned in a career best game. He ended with a team leading seven catches for 144 yards. The Colts have scored with a tight end for seven straight games though Allen notched seven touchdowns compared to four by Fleener. Two home games are next with the Jaguars and then Redskins coming to Indianapolis. That’s reason enough to hold Fleener until Allen is back to health. If Ahmad Bradshaw’s leg remains an issue, Andrew Luck will need Allen even more as an outlet throw.
Ronnie Hillman is out for six weeks with a foot injury and Montee Ball’s big return after six weeks worth of recuperation was a flop. He left with a re-injured groin before he recorded a catch or carry and may well join Hillman watching the rest of the season from the sideline. The Bronco’s high-powered offense just needs an average running back to take advantage of a golden opportunity. That now is C.J. Anderson who ran for 90 yards on 13 carries and added four catches for 73 yards and one score in Oakland in week ten. In the loss to the Rams, he was held to only 29 yards on nine carries but added eight receptions for 86 yards. Add in a banged up Julius Thomas and Anderson could be heavily relied on right when fantasy league playoffs are drawing near.
Switching quarterbacks can really impact the receivers but in the case of the Eagles, the rookie Jordan Mathews cannot complain about Mark Sanchez. After posting a touchdown on his three catches for 40 yards in Houston, he blew up with seven receptions for 138 yards and two scores in the win over the Panthers. Even in the beat down by the Packers, Matthews came through with 107 yards and a score on five receptions. Playing at home in three of the next four games won’t hurt either.
Mike Evans turned in a career mark of 124 yards and two scores in Cleveland during Mike Glennon’s final game. But with Josh McCown as starter, he upped his personal best to 125 yards and a score versus the Falcons and then yet again with a 209 yard effort with two scores in the win over the Redskins. This week he faces an even weaker secondary when he travels to Chicago. McCown’s passing generated 302 yards in week ten and then 288 yards in Washington. The Bucs season may be over but there’s still plenty to play for with 2015 likely to usher in more changes.
When Carson Palmer was out for three weeks earlier this season, Drew Stanton was great at home against the 49ers when he passed for 244 yards and two scores. But he was held to 167 yards in New York by the Giants with no touchdowns. And week five in Denver saw Stanton held to only 118 yards before being concussed in the rout by the Broncos. He managed 306 yards and two touchdowns in the home win over the Lions. But this week Stanton is playing in Seattle. He needs to cure his road problem now with trips to the Rams and 49ers left to play. It was great to see him get Michael Floyd involved again with a score on each of his two catches for 54 yards. But Larry Fitzgerald banged up his knee on Sunday and Stanton’s bigger test starts this week.
|BUF 9, MIA 22||The Bills struggled to mount any offense in this game and Kyle Orton only passed for 193 yards and no scores. Bryce Brown ended with seven catches for 57 yards but only ran for 14 while Anthony Dixon gained 35 yards on ten carries. The Bills had no chance because Sammy Watkins was limited to 32 yards on three catches. Ryan Tannehill (240 yds, 2 TD) had a good if not average game and Lamar Miller ran for 86 yards on 15 runs. Now the 5-5 Bills host the Jets and the 6-4 Dolphins head to Denver.|
|ATL 19, CAR 17||Representative game for the day – close score, low score and mostly sucked for fantasy purposes. Matt Ryan passed for 268 yards and one touchdown that was caught by Roddy White (8-75). Julio Jones continues to go cold with 59 yards and Steven Jackson is back to being a pumpkin with only 47 total yards. Cam Newton ended with 292 yards and two scores but Kelvin Benjamin (9-109, TD) and Greg Olsen (5-61) was all that mattered like virtually every other game. The 4-6 Falcons are somehow in first place in the NFC South and host the Browns while the 3-7-1 Panthers go into their bye.|
|MIN 13, CHI 21||This was another low scoring game but at least Chicago did what every team should do – pick three players to exclusively use every week. Jay Cutler redeemed himself for one week with 330 yards and three touchdowns that were split between Alshon Jeffery (11-135, TD) and Brandon Marshall (7-90, 2 TD) with Matt Forte turning in 117 rushing yards and six catches for 58 yards. The Vikes only saw Teddy Bridgewater pass for 158 yards and one score while not one Viking offered any fantasy value aside from Charles Johnson (6-87) who no one started. Now the 4-6 Vikings host the Packers and the 4-6 Bears host the Buccaneers.|
|HOU 23, CLE 7||Just when you thought the Browns had figured it all out – nope. Brian Hoyer passed for 330 yards but only one touchdown to Andrew Hawkins (6-97). The weekly game of “Spin the Bottle” had Isaiah Crowell take the lead runner role with 14 carries for 61 yards and 30 yards on two catches. Ben Tate ran ten times for 34 yards and one touchdown last week but only two times for a net nine yard loss this week. Terrance West went from 24-94-1 last week to only 5-12-0. Why? At this point the only reasonable answer is to piss you off. Why else play musical chairs every week? There were 21 carries total – why split them up at all anyway? The Texans witnessed the debut of Ryan Mallett who threw for 211 yards and two touchdowns. Alfred Blue replaced Arian Foster and he ran 36 times for 156 yards and even left over 13 runs for 54 yards for Jonathan Grimes. Deandre Hopkins (4-80) and Andre Johnson (7-68) did not score but were the leading receivers for the Texans in part because they had to throw a score to JJ Watt sort of as a insult to the Browns. The 5-5 Texans will host the Bengals this week and the 6-4 Browns head to Atlanta.|
|SEA 20, KC 24||Shocking how little respect is given to reigning Super Bowl champs. Russell Wilson passed for 178 yards and two scores but no Seahawk gained more than 54 yards as a receiver. Marshawn Lynch ran for 124 yards and Wilson added 71 yards as a runner as well. But the Chiefs rode Jamaal Charles (20-159-2) and Knile Davis scored once as well. The Chiefs only threw for 108 yards but had no turnovers and were more successful rushing. The loss sends the 6-4 Seahawks back home to face the 9-1 Cardinals and the 7-3 Chiefs head to Oakland.|
|CIN 27, NO 10||This was a great game to keep you guessing. The Bengals come off a home loss to the Browns where they only scored three points but took down the Saints with ease. The Saints needed the win and were at home but Drew Brees only passed for 255 yards and one touchdown. Mark Ingram ran for just 67 yards on 23 carries. No receiver had more than 56 yards. Andy Dalton threw three interceptions in week ten but on the road in New Orleans passed for 220 yards and three touchdowns with no turnovers. Jeremy Hill ran for 152 yards on 27 carries and A.J. Green ended with 127 yards on six catches. The 6-3 Bengals go to Houston and the 4-6 Saints host the Jaguars.|
|SF 16, NYG 10||Yawn. Tell me all the games are not going to end up like this. Colin Kaepernick passed for just 193 yards and one score that went to Michael Crabtree (3-85) while Anquan Boldin (5-53) had just another mediocre day. Frank Gore ran for 95 yards but there was little happening here. Eli Manning passed for 280 yards and one score but had five interceptions which proved problematic to the goal of winning a game. Then again, five interceptions and he lost by only six points. Rashad Jennings returned to the lineup but only gained 59 yards on 18 runs. Rueben Randle (7-112) finally mattered and Odell Beckham (6-93) still had a decent showing. The 6-4 49ers host the Redskins this week and the 3-7 Giants host the Cowboys.|
|DEN 7, STL 22||Well doesn’t this portend the apocalypse? Peyton Manning threw for 389 yards but only one touchdown against two interceptions as if he was just a normal quarterback. Emmanuel Sanders (5-102, TD) was lost to a concussion and Montee Ball managed to re-injure his groin without actually doing anything. C.J. Anderson had the full workload that ended up as just nine carries for 29 yards though he added eight catches for 86 yards. Julius Thomas was also lost to a bad ankle after just one catch. Demaryius Thomas (7-103) still had a big game but it was not enough once he became the only receiver besides Andre Caldwell and Jacob Tamme. Shaun Hill notches the win in his latest debut but only passed for 220 yards and one score. Kenny Britt (4-128, TD) scored a 63-yard touchdown which made up most of the passing production. Tre Mason ran for 113 yards on 29 carries. The 7-3 Broncos host the Dolphins and the 4-6 Rams head to San Diego.|
|TB 27, WAS 7||You were probably expected a team that was 1-8 to post a 20 point win on the road. Maybe not. Certainly not the Redskins who only got 207 pass yards and one score against two interceptions. Roy Helu (6-57, TD) was the leading receiver and DeSean Jackson was held to only 35 yards on four catches. Pierre Garcon apparently got caught with someone’s wife, or smells bad or something that has caused the team to shun him because he ended with one catch for six yards and just has no discernible fantasy value anymore. The Bucs got 288 yards and two scores from Josh McCown that mostly went to Mike Evans (7-209, 2 TD). The Charles Sims Experience has not been worth the wait so far as he ended with just 44 total yards. The 2-8 Buccaneers head to Chicago this week and the 3-7 Redskins head to San Francisco.|
|OAK 6, SD 13||Here is your problem. These teams faced off in week six with the Chargers winner 31-28. Now they combine for 19 points and makes you feel unclean for even reading the box score. Philip Rivers passed for just 193 yards and one score to Michael Floyd (4-44) and Keenan Allen ended with 63 yards on eight catches. Ryan Mathews was back but only ran for 70 yards on 16 carries with one catch for five yards while Brandon Oliver (13-36) has lost all his fantasy value. Derek Carr passed for 172 yards and no Raider had more than 47 yards of production or scored. The 0-10 Raiders host the Chiefs and the 6-4 Chargers welcome the visiting Rams.|
|DET 6, ARI 14||Man. Are these all halftime scores? But no. Matt Stafford has all his receivers back healthy and throws for just 183 yards. Calvin Johnson leads the team with just 59 yards on five catches and Golden Tate ended with just 41 yards on two receptions. Joique Bell ran for 85 yards on 14 carries and added three receptions for 30 yards. Drew Stanton passed for 306 yards and two scores that both went to Michael Floyd (2-54, TD) while Larry Fitzgerald was held to only 33 yards on two catches. Andre Ellington ran for just 42 yards on 19 runs but added 24 yards on four catches. The 7-3 Lions heads to New England this week and the NFL leading 9-1 Cardinals will head to Seattle.|
|NE42 , IND 20||At least there were some points here. The Colts at home had been in top form and the Pats on the road less so. But the tables turned and the Colts were just never really in this one. Tom Brady ended with 257 yards and two scores and Rob Gronkowski (4-71) bulled in one touchdown. But Jonas Gray dominated this game with 38 carries for 199 yards and four touchdowns. He never gained more than 20 yards in any run, he just hit positive yardage on every carry. Andrew Luck would throw for 303 yards and two scores but was forced to use Coby Fleener (7-144) as his primary receiver and Reggie Wayne (5-91) helped but T.Y. Hilton (3-24) was shut down at home for the first time. Now the 8-2 Patriots will host the Lions and the 6-4 Colts host the Jaguars.|
HUDDLE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Jonas Gray – Nothing like getting the start on a national Sunday night game that everyone wants to watch. And even though his first three games averaged just 42 yards and no touchdowns or catches, he was given a big role in Indy. He merely rushed 38 times for 199 yards and four touchdowns to dominate the Colts who had no answer for him. Chances are Gray will remember this game. In fact so will the Colts.
DRAMA 101 – SOMEBODY HAS TO LAUGH, SOMEBODY HAS TO CRY
|QB||Drew Stanton||306||2||QB||Drew Brees||258||1|
|RB||Jonas Gray||199||4||RB||Andre Ellington||66||0|
|RB||Roy Helu||57||1||RB||Montee Ball||0||0|
|WR||Kenny Britt||128||1||WR||TY Hilton||24||0|
|WR||Michael Floyd||54||2||WR||Sammy Watkins||35||0|
|WR||Charles Johnson||87||0||WR||DeSean Jackson||35||0|
|TE||Jermaine Gresham||13||2||TE||Julius Thomas||3||0|
|PK||Greg Zuerlein||16 pts||PK||Brandon McManus||1 pt|
|Huddle Fantasy Points = 150||Huddle Fantasy Points = 31|
Sunday’s Couch Commentary
All those low scoring games hurt the effort to reach your playoffs unless you luck into one of the handful of big scoring players. Nine games happened with no team scoring more than 24 points. 16 teams scored 20 points or fewer and no game featured two teams that would both score more than 20. This could happen again next week right when fantasy playoffs are decided in many leagues.
The Game-O-The-Week? It wasn’t close but by God it had 73 total points so it was like three games in one.
Eagles 20, Packers 53
The Packers are flying high with back-to-back 50+ point games for the first time in franchise history. Aaron Rodgers passed for 341 yards and three touchdowns and so far Randall Cobb (10-129) and Jordy Nelson (4-109, TD) are just unstoppable. Eddie Lacy scored on both a run and a reception with a total of 114 yards on just 13 touches. Davante Adams showed up with a score but Cobb, Nelson and Lacy are pushing the Packers into January and seem to be gaining steam.
Mark Sanchez passed for 346 yards and two scores with two interceptions. But almost all his production came after the game was already lost and the Packers were just trying to get through the game. Jordan Matthews (5-107, TD) led the receivers and Jeremy Maclin (9-93, TD) was the only other receiver that mattered. LeSean McCoy ran for 88 yards on 23 runs but only had one catch for 18 yards.
This was one of the coldest games and it did not matter. Light snow was in Chicago and yet the Bears served up nice fantasy points from all the usual suspects. Remember in the coming weeks that it is far more common to overreact to weather than it is for weather to play a part. Unless it is really windy or raining so hard you can barely see, it doesn’t often have a big bearing on the game. And even in those cases, the weather usually doesn’t last all three hours.
Hopefully the low scoring games did not shortcut your attempt to make the play offs or worse yet, make you drop from contention. But we still get weekly surprises and you should continue to build up your roster even if you think you do not need the players. C.J. Anderson and Jonas Gray are but two of the recent players to show up and make a difference.
We’re heading into the home stretch now and this coming week has almost all the highest scoring teams at home. That’s bound to help because no one wants to reach the playoffs looking like you do not belong and you are not going to stay. Save those feelings for Thanksgiving.
Now get back to work…