BUMPS, BRUISES AND BOWOUTS
Ryan Mallett – Pectoral muscle
Cooper Helfet – Ankle
Ryan Matthews – Shoulder
Austin Sefarian-Jenkins – Back
Zach Ertz – Oblique
Scoring was up last week and even better there were almost no injuries. That’s normal for this time of year when everyone plays with aches and pains but it is unusual for anyone to get knocked out completely in the final weeks of the season. It is just rare. That is not to say you should go into your final games without a backup at every position because you need to address not only injuries but bad weather games as well. So long as you have one valid option for each starting position you will be fine. This includes kickers, tight ends and team defenses.
Browns wideout Josh Gordon made his 2014 debut with 16 targets and eight receptions for 120 yards tying him with A.J. Green for most passes thrown to any receiver and this was “easing him back him”. It was double what any other Browns receiver was given in the win over the Falcons. Andre Hawkins was held to only five passes though he caught them all and gained 93 yards. The return of Gordon will once again obscure the rest of the receivers and the upcoming schedule is much tougher than meeting the Falcons. The Browns play at the Bills, the Colts, the Bengals and then at the Panthers in the all important week 16.
Charles Johnson finally saw the field for the first time back in week five and these last two games he’s slid into being the #1 wideout for the Vikings. He ended with six catches for 87 yards in Chicago and then posted three receptions that gained 52 yards and scored once in the loss to the Packers. The Vikings spend the next two weeks at home hosting the Panthers and Jets. Johnson will continue to see work in those while the rest of the receiving corps remains unable to step up.
Odell Beckham already justified his first round draft selection when he averaged 119 yards per game from week nine through week 11. The rookie kicked that up to 10 receptions for 146 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to the Cowboys. No other wide receiver had more than three catches in that game and Beckham is not likely for a slow down. Apparently he only needs three fingers on one hand to make a catch. The next opponents are at the Jaguars, at the Titans, the Redskins and then at St. Louis. All have soft secondaries and the Giants will need to throw.
Notable for the Colts was the game time decision to let Dan Herron start over Trent Richardson. The fourth-year back originally with the Bengals gets a golden opportunity for the next month. While Richardson ran 13 times for 42 yards and one score, Herron took over the “Bradshaw” role and rushed for 65 yards on 12 runs and caught a team high five passes for 31 more yards. Richardson is not being expanded into anything more than what he was. But Herron is taking over the dual role at a really great time given the next opponents are the Redskins, at the Browns, the Texans and finally at Dallas. He’s running more effectively than Richardson and will get more receptions in any games that face tougher defenses.
The Patriots are playing great defense this year and just held the Lions to no touchdowns and only 264 passing yards. Calvin Johnson ended with just four receptions for 58 yards. While that hurts, this is no time to be bitter. The Lions return home for the next three weeks to host the Bears, Buccaneers and Vikings and then spend week 16 in Chicago. Matt Stafford and the rest of the offense have disappointed this year but now hit the softest part of their schedule right when you need them the most. Golden Tate in particular has been a lock for a big game when facing a weaker defense and that’s regardless of venue.
It is rarely so clear but in the case of the Eagles, Mark Sanchez changed who was the primary receiver. Up until he started in week ten, Jeremy Maclin averaged six catches for 100 yards per game. Jordan Matthews was good for around four receptions for 39 yards and just three touchdowns on the season versus six for Maclin. Once Sanchez took over, Maclin produces about six catches for 63 yards and scored once in the last three weeks. Matthews is now up to six catches for 107 yards per game during that time and already scored three times. With two meetings with the Cowboys in the next three weeks, both wideouts will need to step up but the rookie takes precedence so long as Sanchez remains under center.
Heading into the final weeks of the season, you may only have one more time you can use your Cardinals and feel great about it. There is already a problem with Larry Fitzgerald who had every meaningful game happen while Carson Palmer was the starter. Both touchdowns and he averaged 92 yards per week but in games started by Drew Stanton, Fitzgerald only produced around 44 yards and never scored. Now he’s out with a sprained MCL when Stanton was held to only 149 passing yards with no scores and one interception in Seattle. This week is a trip to Atlanta that should be kinder to the offense but after that the schedule is no friend while facing the Chiefs, at the Rams and then hosting the Seahawks in week 16. Expect next week to be as good as it will get for the rest of the year for all of the Cardinals offense including Andre Ellington.
BECAUSE LIFE SHOULD ALWAYS BE A MYSTERY
Jonas Gray put on a show in week 11 when he gained 199 yards on 38 carries and scored four touchdowns to lead the NFL for the week and roll up about 75 yards more than any other Patriot rusher this year. Naturally, he was acquired in every league and considered for a start against the Lions last Sunday. But at the same time, malcontent LeGarrette Blount was busy getting kicked off the Steelers after spending much of the season standing on the sidelines asking people if they had a lighter on them. A few days later and he was a Patriot again. And since Gray overslept and missed a team meeting, Blount stepped in against the #1 defense of the Lions and rushed 12 times to gain 78 yards and score twice. Your fantasy playoffs is a bad time to play the Patriot guessing game because when you are wrong, you are “zero points” wrong. Just ask the Tim Wright owners who watched him score in five of the last seven games but those other two? Not even a single target.
|KC 20, OAK 24||Yeah. The Chiefs are “it” and the Raiders have a win. A star was born and then lost all in the span of four carries when Latavius Murray scored twice including a 90-yard touchdown run. And then he jacked up and left with a concussion. It was raining for most of the game and Derek Carr passed for 174 yards and one touchdown. Murray ended with 112 yards on four runs while Darren McFadden ended with 12 runs for 29 yards and of course MJD had negative yardage again. The Raiders would net more offense if they would just not let MJD suit up. Jamaal Charles provided almost all of the offense for the Chiefs with 122 total yards and Alex Smith threw for 234 yards and two scores but connected with Anthony Fasano for the other touchdown. The reality with the Chiefs is that once they fall behind, they mostly suck because they cannot throw to their wideouts. Now the 7-4 Chiefs host the Broncos and the 1-10 Raiders get back to losing in St. Louis.|
|CLE 26, ATL 24||This is a symbol of how 2014 is different. The Browns won on the road, the Falcons lost at home. Brian Hoyer threw for 322 yards and three interceptions but Isaiah Crowell (12-88-2) was the started this week even though Terrance West (14-62) would get more work. Josh Gordon was back and since he was rusty he was limited to only 8 catches for 120 yards. Matt Ryan threw for 273 yards and two scores and that included one to Julio Jones (5-68). Steven Jackson only ran for 34 yards but scored once. The Browns won on a list second field goal. Bottom line – Falcons defense = bad. Now the 7-4 Browns head to Buffalo and the 4-7 Falcons head to Arizona.|
|TB 13, CHI 21||Lovie Smith, you cannot go home. Or at least if you do, even the bad Bears can beat you. Josh McCown passed for 341 yards and one touchdown but two interceptions. Vincent Jackson (5-117) and Louis Murphy (6-113) were both busy but Mike Evans (3-47) caught the touchdown. The beauty of Doug Martin returning is that you don’t have to feel tempted to start a TB RB anymore since they all three played and none of them gained more than 33 yards. Jay Cutler ended with only 130 yards and one score to Alshon Jeffery (3-22) but as usual it was Matt Forte running for 89 yards and two scores and added 23 yards on five catches that mattered the most. Now the 2-9 Buccaneers host the Bengals and the 5-6 Bears head to Detroit.|
|CIN 22, HOU 13||The Bengals defense was back to form against a rookie QB and with Arian Foster out. Ryan Mallett was held to only 189 yards and one interception while Alfred Blue ran for only 46 yards on 16 carries. No receiver had more than 41 yards for the Texans. Andy Dalton threw for 233 yards and a score to Mohamed Sanu (5-48) while A.J. Green gained 121 on his 12 receptions. on his 12 receptions. Jeremy Hill (18-87, TD) and Giovani Bernard (17-45) did a good job together but split carries evenly.Now the 7-3-1 Bengals head to Tampa Bay and the 5-6 Texans host the Titans.|
|JAC 3, IND 23||No surprises here other than all those smug Andrew Luck owners only got 253 yards and one score from their golden boy (okay, and 49 rush yards). TY Hilton ended with 122 yards and one score while no one else had more than 38 yards. Trent Richardson (13-42) scored once but Dan Herron (12-65) was more productive. Blake Bortles ended with only 146 passing yards which almost entirely came late in the game. Denard Robinson finally had a bad game with just 25 yards on 14 carries but added 47 yards on four catches. Without Robinson, the Jags are back to having no one with any fantasy value. The 1-10 Jags host the Giants this week and the 7-4 Colts host the Redskins.|
|GB 24, MIN 21||This was much more of a game than it should have been. Teddy Bridgewater passed for 210 yards and two scores with Charles Johnson (3-52) and Greg Jennings (4-38) both catching touchdowns. Jerick McKinnon (15-54) had a mediocre day even with Matt Asiata gone. Aaron Rodgers did what he had to do in order to win and nothing else. He passed for 209 yards and two scores but those went to Eddie Lacy and Richard Rodgers, not Jordy Nelson (8-68) or Randall Cobb (4-58). Eddie Lacy ran for 125 yards and one score for one of his best games in his career. Now the 8-3 Packers host the Patriots and the 4-7 Vikings host the Panthers.|
|DET 9, NE 34||Big dose of reality for the “You’re not all that ” Lions when Tom Brady still passed for 349 yards and two touchdowns that both went to Timothy Wright (5-36) instead of Rob Gronkowski (5-78) and all you guys that ran out and grabbed Jonas Gray and started him got a big fat zero while LeGarrette Blount (12-78, 2 TD) became the latest NE RB that you did not start. Matt Stafford only passed for 264 yards and no score and Calvin Johnson was held to only 58 yards on four catches while Golden Tate (4-97) was once again the more productive player. Now the 7-4 Lions host the Bears and the 9-2 Patriots head to Green Bay.|
|TEN 24, PHI 43||After so many low scoring games last week and even this week, here is the sort of game we all wanted to see. No defenses. Zach Mettenberger threw for 345 yards and two scores and Delanie Walker (5-155) and Justin Hunter (4-64, TD) both had better games than usual. Bishop Sankey ran for 43 yards on ten carries but they let Shonn Greene take the short touchdown run. Mark Sanchez passed for 307 yards and one score with Jordan Matthews (5-77) and Jeremy Maclin (6-59) both had decent showings while LeSean McCoy ran for 130 yards and a score though Darren Sproles (6-25, TD) did hawk one of his touchdowns. The Eagles opened the game with the obligatory special teams touchdown. Now the 2-9 Titans head to Houston and the 8-3 Eagles get ready to play in Dallas.|
|STL 24, SD 27||The Rams keep making you think they may be good and then ruin it and then make you think they may be good. Shaun Hill only passed for 198 yards and one score with two interceptions. Stedman Bailey was the only notable receiver with 89 yards and a score. Tre Mason turned in a total of 88 yards and some how Tavon Austin actually ran in a touchdown. But the Chargers had Philip Rivers pass for 291 yards and one score, Keenan Allen ended with 6-104-1 and Ryan Matthews for 105 yards and a score on 12 carries before, of course getting hurt. The Rams do well but it’s not always easy to say how they did so well. The 4-7 Rams host the Rams this week and the 7-4 Chargers visit Baltimore.|
|ARI 3, SEA 19||Apparently not having Carson Palmer or Larry Fitzgerald or home field matters. Drew Stanton only managed 149 pass yards and one interception and John Brown led all receivers with just 61 yards. Andre Ellington was held to 24 yards on ten runs but added five catches for 39 yards. Marshawn Lynch only gained 39 yards on 15 runs but also had 43 yards on three catches. Russell Wilson was the lead runner with 73 yards on ten carries and passed for 211 yards and a score. This was just a defensive battle but the Cards did not have much to use on offense. The 7-4 Seahawks head to San Francisco this week and the 9-2 Cardinals go visit the Falcons.|
|WAS 13, SF 17||The Skins made this more of a game than it should be and that reflects more on the 49ers. Colin Kaepernick only passed for 256 yards and one score to Anquan Boldin (9-137-1) but no other receivers did much and Frank Gore only ran for 36 yards on 13 carries. Robert Griffin III only passed for 106 yards on his 19 pass attempts with no receiver gaining more than 39 yards. Alfred Morris was the only fantasy play in this entire game that paid off when he ran for 125 yards and a score. Now the 3-7 Redskins head to Indianapolis and the 6-4 49ers host the Seahawks.|
|DAL 31, NYG 28||The Cowboys remain unbeaten on the road but struggled to stay that way against the Giants who are on a six game losing streak. Tony Romo passed for 275 yards and four touchdowns that went to Dez Bryant (7-86, 2 TD), Cole Beasley (2-66, TD) and Jason Witten (4-30, TD) while DeMarco Murray ended with 143 total yards. Eli Manning threw for 338 yards and three touchdowns while Odell Beckham (10-146-2) made some incredible catches and Rashad Jennings turned in 120 total yards with Andre Williams hawking the one rushing touchdown. This went down to the wire with Romo leading a drive that ended with a score to Bryant with a minute left to take the lead but the Giants were unable to get close enough for a field goal attempt. Now the 8-3 Cowboys return home to host the Eagles in a big divisional matchup and the3-8 Giants travel to face Jaguars.|
HUDDLE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Demaryius Thomas – Odell Beckham was in the running here but Peyton Manning’s best buddy just turned in ten catches for 87 yards and three touchdowns. Thomas ended his seven game streak of 100+ yard games but fantasy owners are probably okay with the 36.7 points his day was worth in reception point leagues.
DRAMA 101 – SOMEBODY HAS TO LAUGH, SOMEBODY HAS TO CRY
|QB||Teddy Bridgewater||242||2||QB||Jay Cutler||130||1|
|RB||Latavius Murray||112||2||RB||Joique Bell||46||0|
|RB||Jacquizz Rodgers||27||1||RB||Frank Gore||36||0|
|WR||Stedman Bailey||89||1||WR||Brandon Marshall||32||0|
|WR||Louis Murphy||113||0||WR||Andre Johnson||36||0|
|WR||Charles Johnson||52||1||WR||Randall Cobb||58||0|
|TE||Tim Wright||36||2||TE||Antonio Gates||14||0|
|PK||Billy Cundiff||14 pts||PK||Chandler Cantanzaro||3 pts|
|Huddle Fantasy Points = 127||Huddle Fantasy Points = 33|
Sunday’s Couch Commentary
This week includes the Bills and Jets playing in Detroit on Monday thanks to the snow storm in Buffalo. And the Thursday game was a nice start when we watched Latavius Murray suddenly bring life, meaning and actual points into the Raiders offense all in the span of four carries before getting a concussion. Overall the scoring was good this week and we are getting to the time of year where most games just naturally end up close as teams play up or down to their competition.
The Game-O-The-Week? Gotta love points, especially when so many were unexpected.
Dolphins 36, Broncos 39
There was some concern last week when the Broncos fell to the Rams and lost players in the process. But in the end only Julius Thomas missed this week and Emmanuel Sanders (9-125) was back to gaining the most yardage of any Denver wideout while Demaryius Thomas (10-87, 3 TD) was the touchdown king and highest scorer of the day. But C.J. Anderson also showed up with 167 yards and one score on 27 runs plus 28 yards on four catches. The argument about who is the best running back in Denver has finally been solved. It is whoever is starting that week because chances are he’s going to shine.
Ryan Tannehill passed for 228 yards and three touchdowns plus ran in a score as well. He’s not elite yet by any means but he’s starting to belong in the group of “good” quarterbacks. Jarvis Landry (7-50, 2 TD) and Mike Wallace (4-35, TD) both helped keep the Fins in the game. Lamar Miller ran for 59 yards but Daniel Thomas ran in the touchdown.
This went down to the wire with the Broncos going up 39-28 with 3:17 left to play and the Fins driving the field to score a touchdown and two point conversion with only 1:33 left to play but the Broncos never game it back.
We are on the brink of fantasy playoffs and in some contests they start the process as early as this week or next. Good luck to all of you who have managed to navigate the minefield of injuries, demotions and outright surprises that made up this season. If you didn’t make it – go try some Daily Fantasy Games even if just the free ones. No need to let the season end so quickly now when you finally figured it all out.
And the happiest of Thanksgivings to you all. If you get to visit with family enjoy it while you can and if you can’t – friends can be even more fun than family. Best wishes from me and The Huddle!
Now get back to work…