Running down Sunday’s fantasy movers, shakers and heartbreakers:
Steelers 42, Bengals 21
Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati
We start off with condolences if you were facing Le’Veon Bell in your opening-week playoff matchup. All the Steelers’ second-year stud did was roll up 235 total yards – 185 rushing – and three TDs to become the first player since Walter Payton in 1977 to eclipse 200 yards from scrimmage in three straight games.
Extra points: If not for Bell’s heroics, A.J. Green would’ve grabbed the fantasy headlines here with a career-high 224 yards and a TD on 11 catches. … Andy Dalton finished 21-of-29 for 302 yards and two TDs while adding 22 yards and a TD on the ground, but did lose a crucial fumble that helped swing the game’s momentum. … Jeremy Hill (8-46 rushing, 3-21 receiving) got two more touches than Giovanni Bernard (6-17, 3-19), but neither were much help to their fantasy franchises. … TE Jermaine Gresham (3-23) caught Dalton’s other scoring toss and continues to be a sneaky TE play. … Ben Roethlisberger, meanwhile, managed to throw for 350 yards and three TDs despite Bell’s big day, with his other two scoring throws going to Martavis Bryant (4-109) and Heath Miller (1-1). … Antonio Brown continues to pile up the receptions and yards (9-117) but didn’t find the end zone despite leading the team with 14 targets.
Rams 24, Redskins 0
FedEx Field; Landover, Md.
If you started the St. Louis defense/special teams and aren’t advancing in the playoffs, well, your team obviously has other shortcomings. That two shutouts in two games now for the Rams after blanking the listless D.C. crew Sunday while forcing two turnovers and recording seven sacks.
Extra points: TE Jared Cook came into the contest with one TD among 37 receptions this season, but two of his four catches Sunday resulted in scores and his 61 receiving yards were his third-highest total of the season. … Tre Mason got 20 carries but didn’t come close to duplicating his huge Week 13, finishing with 66 yards and no scores. … With the possible exception of Pierre Garcon (9-95 on a team-high 11 targets) in PPR leagues, it was a total fantasy wash for the rest of the Redskins’ offense as Colt McCoy threw for 199 yards and two interceptions and “leading” the team in rushing on two carries for 11 yards while Alfred Morris (8-6, 1-11) and Jordan Reed (3-25) did nothing. McCoy later left with was called a neck strain and was replaced by Robert Griffin III (3-of-4, 33 yards) as the D.C. QB circus continues. … At least DeSean Jackson’s fantasy owners were spared the ugliness as he was declared a pre-game inactive with a lingering leg injury.
Giants 36, Titans 7
LP Field; Nashville, Tenn.
If you’ve been able to keep up, it’s now six straight games with at least six receptions and 90 yards for Odell Beckham Jr. who snared 11 passes for 130 yards and a score in this one on a team-high 15 targets.
Extra points: The TD toss to Beckham, though, was the only scoring pass for Eli Manning who finished 26-of-42 for 260 yards and the requisite turnover (interception). … Rashad Jennings was active but clearly was limited, getting only two carries and one reception for 22 total yards, while rookie Andre Williams had a career day with his 24-131-1 rushing performance and his three catches for 16 yards. … For the hosts, Zach Mettenberger (14-of-24, 125 yards, interception) was unable to finish his second consecutive game with a shoulder injury, and Jake Locker (9-of-11, 81 yards, interception) finished up. … Locker, by the way, wound up as the Titans’ leading rusher with 28 yards on two carries while Bishop Sankey (9-25) continues to falter. … Without the injured Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter, Derek Hagan (6-62) and Nate Washington (3-56) led the Tennessee pass-catchers, while TE Delanie Walker (4-27) disappointed on a team-high 10 targets. … Finally, the Giants’ D proved to be sneaky great play with eight sacks and three forced turnovers, including Marqueston Huff’s 23-yard interception return for a TD.
Panthers 41, Saints 10
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans
Remember when a home game for Drew Brees and the Saints just about guaranteed fantasy – and reality – success? No more. New Orleans lost its fourth straight home contest Sunday and lost ugly, with Brees completing only 29-of-49 passes for 235 yards, a TD and an interception, and Mark Ingram (10-43, 2-13 fumble) and Marques Colston (5-72) leading the way in rushing and receiving, respectively.
Extra points: TE Jimmy Graham was at least targeted a team-high 11 times here but finished with only three catches for 25 yards. … Pierre Thomas had nine touches, including five rushes, and had 52 total yards. … For the Panthers, Cam Newton broke out of his rut in a big way, throwing for 226 yards and three scores and adding 83 yards and a TD on the ground. … Speaking of ground production, Jonathan Stewart posted the second-best rushing outing (20-155-1) of his career – thanks largely to a 69-yard scoring burst – with DeAngelo Williams inactive. … TE Greg Olsen (10-72 on 11 targets), Kelvin Benjamin (2-24) and RB Fozzy Whittaker (3-5, 1-26) reeled in Newton’s scoring passes.
Vikings 30, Jets 24 (OT)
TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis
Teddy Bridgewater had his second career 300-yard passing game with 309 yards and two TDs to notch his best fantasy outing of the season. He did throw an interception, though, and was only able to add 7 rushing yards on three carries.
Extra points: The rookie’s TD passes went to WRs Jarius Wright (4-123) and Charles Johnson (4-103 on a team-high 8 targets), with the former’s 87-yard TD grab serving as the game-winner in OT. … With Jerick McKinnon (back) out again and now done for the season, Matt Asiata got 19 carries for 54 yards while Ben Tate ran three times for 15 yards. … TE Kyle Rudolph (2-9 on 2 targets) continues to see little involvement, and we’re not even going to bother anymore with Cordarrelle Patterson (1 rush-6 yards). … For the Jets, Percy Harvin had his best game in green, catching six of his nine targets for 124 yards and a TD before – in typical N.Y. luck – leaving with an ankle injury, while fellow wideout Eric Decker had six receptions for 89 yards on eight targets. … Both Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson finished with 16 rushing attempts, but the former produced 20 more yards (73-53). … Geno Smith threw for 254 yards and a TD and ran for 33 yards on six carries but threw an opening-possession pick-six, once again making the opposing defense a solid fantasy start.
Ravens 28, Dolphins 13
Sun Life Stadium; Miami Gardens, Fla.
Even with Torrey Smith active but not targeted after his ailing knee swelled up in pre-game warmups, the Baltimore passing game produced some fantasy-worthy numbers with Joe Flacco throwing for 269 yards and two scores and running for 16 yards and another TD. WRs Steve Smith (7-70 on a team-high 11 targets) and Kamar Aiken (6-65) had the TD receptions.
Extra points: On the ground, Justin Forsett (13-71, 2-7) started slow but got going late with a 1-yard TD plunge and a 44-yard burst. … For Miami, there were slim fantasy pickings as Ryan Tannehill threw for only 227 yards and TD while rushing for 6 yards on two carries, Lamar Miller (12-53, 5-36) gained 89 total yards and Brian Hartline (2-11) scored the team’s lone TD. … Pass-catchers Jarvis Landry (6-55), Charles Clay (2-41) and Mike Wallace (3-39) all had rather modest afternoons.
Colts 25, Browns 24
FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland
Andrew Luck (24-of-53, 294 yards, 2 TDs, 2 picks) and T.Y. Hilton (10-150 on 19 targets) started slow but finished with a flourish, hooking up for a pair of TDs in the final 19 minutes. Luck also ran for a TD and paced Indy with 37 rushing yards on five attempts, but turnovers continue to be a problem with the QB tossing a pair of picks and losing a fumble – two of which were returned for touchdowns. Hilton also coughed up a fumble.
Extra points: Trent Richardson showed the Browns what they’re missing in the form of 30 yards on seven rushes, while teammate Dan Herron finished 8-26 on the ground but caught four passes for 45 yards. … TE Dwayne Allen was back but caught only one of his three targets for 5 yards, while Coby Fleener was 5-56 on 10 targets. … Brian Hoyer got another start for the Browns, but faltered badly, completing 14-of-31 passes for 140 yards and two interceptions. Expect Johnny Manziel to get his long-awaited first start next Sunday against the Bengals. … TE Jordan Cameron returned after a five-game absence and paced the team with 41 yards on four catches. Andrew Hawkins was targeted a team-most seven times and finished with four grabs for 38 yards, while Josh Gordon’s limited snaps resulted in a two-catch, 15-yard outing on seven targets. … Rookie RBs Terrance West (15-54) and Isaiah Crowell (14-54) had near-identical unproductive stat lines.
Lions 34, Buccaneers 17
Ford Field, Detroit
The Lions’ offense has rediscovered its groove just in time for the fantasy postseason with Matthew Stafford throwing for 311 yards and three TDs and Calvin Johnson snaring eight of his nine targets for 158 yards and a score.
Extra points: Joique Bell (5-50) and Joseph Fauria (2-17) had the Lions’ other scoring grabs while Bell added a team-leading 83 yards and a TD on the ground. … Reggie Bush had all of 34 yards on 12 touches in his return, while Golden Tate was a ho-hum 4-50 receiving. … Josh McCown (20-of-39, 250 yards, 2 TDs, 2 picks, fumble) targeted Vincent Jackson a whopping 17 times, and he finished with a season-best 10 receptions for 159 yards, but the two scoring passes, naturally, were reeled in by rookie counterpart Mike Evans (4-45 on 10 targets). … The Tampa RBs continue to be unusable as they got all of 10 carries, with Doug Martin (5-22, 1-0) outgaining Charles Sims (5-minus-4, 1-24).
Texans 27, Jaguars 13
EverBank Field, Jacksonville
Those jumping on the Ryan Fitzpatrick Bandwagon following his six-TD-pass outing in Week 13, were rewarded with one touchdown – on the ground as part of an eight-carry, 19-yard outing – while seeing him throw for 135 yards on 13-of-19 passing.
Extra points: Arian Foster delivered, as usual, with a 24-127-1 rushing outing and two catches for 21 yards. Backup Alfred Blue (9-15) also found his way into the end zone. … And, as you already know, it wasn’t a big day for the Texans’ pass-catchers as DeAndre Hopkins (4-49 on a team-high six targets) set the pace, and Andre Johnson (4-17) left with a second-quarter concussion. … The Jags produced one TD – a 4-yard first-quarter pass from Blake Bortles (205 yards, pick) to Allen Hurns (5-36) – while Denard Robinson (10-30) served as the leading rusher and TE Marcedes Lewis (3-69) and WR Marqise Lee (5-67) were the top pass-catchers.
Broncos 24, Bills 17
Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver
Peyton Manning and the Denver passing game crushed a lot of fantasy dreams as the QB threw for a season-low 173 yards and tossed two interceptions in a 14-of-20 outing and unbelievably failed to throw a TD pass for the first time in 52 games. Emmanuel Sanders (4-56) and Demaryius Thomas (2-11) were quiet on a combined 11 targets, while TE Julius Thomas was even more of a nightmare for his fantasy owners as he was active for the first time in three weeks but didn’t attract a single target.
Extra points: Hogging all the fantasy fun was RB C.J. Anderson who didn’t have a huge yardage day (21-58) by any means but scored all three of the Broncos’ TDs on short runs despite limping off the field several times with an ankle issue. … Wes Welker matched Sanders with a team-most six targets and had his best receiving day (6-82) in a while for those few who were somehow still starting him. … For the Bills, Kyle Orton delivered some decent numbers (38-of-57, 355 yards) and pair of garbage-time TDs (one passing, one rushing), while Sammy Watkins (7-127 on 12 targets) came to life after struggling the last month. … WR Chris Hogan (7-54-1) and TE Scott Chandler (8-81) were also heavily involved in the passing game as was RB Fred Jackson (10-37 on a team-high 14 targets) while leading the Bills on the ground (8-35).
Cardinals 17, Chiefs 14
University of Phoenix Stadium; Glendale, Ariz.
Jamaal Charles threw a scare into his fantasy owners after heading into the lockerroom with a reported ankle injury shortly after his 63-yard first-quarter scoring run but came back to add an 18-yard TD grab and finish with 111 total yards on only 12 touches.
Extra points: For the hosts, the fantasy stars were two players – RB Kerwynn Williams (19-100) and WR Jaron Brown (2-48-1) – who are on far more league waiver wires than in fantasy lineups. … QB Drew Stanton (15-of-30, 239 yards, TD; 4-17 rushing) didn’t light it up by any means but was better than he has been in taking care of the ball – i.e. no turnovers. … Larry Fitzgerald was targeted a team-most nine times in his return but finished 4-34, while fellow wideout Michael Floyd (4-85) paced the squad in receiving yards. … If the Chiefs aren’t going to get their WRs heavily involved or into the end zone in a game where Alex Smith (26-of-39) threw for a season-high 293 yards, you’d think TE Travis Kelce would’ve have had game, and he finally played the part Sunday, hitting career highs with seven catches and 110 yards on a team-high nine targets. He also, though, lost a controversial fumble.
Seahawks 24, Eagles 14
Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia
Yeah, it looks like the Seahawks’ D is definitely the Seahawks’ D, and while they didn’t rack up huge fantasy numbers in this one (2 forced turnovers, 3 sacks) they did hold the high-flying Philly offense to 139 total yards, including a 10-of-20, 96-yard, 2-TD, 1-pick passing day for Mark Sanchez.
Extra points: On the other side of the ball, Russell Wilson (263 yards, 2 TDs passing; 10-48-1 rushing) came up large, and WR Doug Baldwin (5-97 on a team-high-tying 7 targets) was the big beneficiary among the 10 Seattle players who caught passes. … Marshawn Lynch produced 113 yards on 28 touches, including a 15-yard scoring reception. … Philly counterpart LeSean McCoy rushed for only 50 yards and lost a fumble on 17 carries but wasn’t targeted in the passing game. … WR Jeremy Maclin (3-21 on a team-leading six targets) and TE Zach Ertz (2-39) had the scoring receptions but did little else. Meanwhile, rookie wideout Jordan Matthews (2-23 on 5 targets) couldn’t even say that.
Raiders 24, 49ers 13
O.Co Coliseum; Oakland, Calif.
Is there any fantasy element of the 49ers that can be trusted? That question has been asked for weeks, and the chorus only got louder after Colin Kaepernick (18-of-33, 174 yards, TD, 2 picks; 3-26 rushing) and Co. stumbled through this seemingly favorable matchup.
Extra points: Raiders rookie Derek Carr (22-of-28, 254 yards, 3 TDs, no turnovers) was easily the best QB on the field as he connected with TE Mychal Rivera (7-109), FB Marcel Reece (7-64) and OT Donald Penn (1-3) – yes, OT Donald Penn – on scoring passes. … Andre Holmes (2-38 on 5 targets) paced a very meager day for the Silver & Black WRs, while Latavius Murray produced 85 yards on 25 touches, including 76 on 23 rushes. … Meanwhile, Darren McFadden was Darren McFadden with five rushing yards on four carries. … Frank Gore averaged 5.3 yards a carry but only ran it 12 times (for 63 yards), while Michael Crabtree’s team-leading 14 targets and nine receptions resulted in all of 56 yards. … Anquan Boldin (4-54) couldn’t do much with nine targets, while Vernon Davis produced his weekly 2-26 dud. … Even the Niners’ D stunk it up with one sack and no turnovers.
Patriots 23, Chargers 14
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego
Tom Brady (317 yards, 2 TDs, interception) & Crew produced the expected bounce-back victory, with Julian Edelman (8-141-1) and Rob Gronkowski (8-87-1) supplying the fantasy fireworks on a combined 23 targets.
Extra points: The Pats’ ground game was a non-factor, but at least LeGarrette Blount (20-66) is proving somewhat safe, getting the clear majority of the team’s rushes for the third straight game. … Brandon LaFell, meanwhile, caught only four of his nine targets for 41 yards and lost a fumble that was returned for an S.D. TD. … For the Bolts, Philip Rivers (20-of-33 189 yards, TD, interception) and WR Keenan Allen (2-3 on 3 targets) found Darrelle Revis and the N.E. secondary a little tougher to crack than the Ravens’, while Malcom Floyd (3-54) scored the team’s only offensive TD. … That means Ryan Mathews (11-44, 1-4) couldn’t extend his scoring streak to three games.