BUMPS, BRUISES AND BOWOUTS
Frank Gore – Concussion
Keenan Allen – Leg injury
Tom Savage – Knee
Jake Locker – Shoulder
Ryan Fitzpatrick – Leg fracture
Rashad Jennings – Ankle
Colt McCoy – Neck re-injured
T.Y. Hilton – Hamstring
Carlos Hyde – Back
The NFL served up plenty of low-scoring affairs again last week that started out with a no-touchdown game between the Cardinals and Rams. Almost every game featured at least one team that failed to reach 20 points if not both. There were only five tight ends who caught a touchdown and just two quarterbacks that threw more than two scores. But at least Le’Veon Bell and Odell Beckham continued to the unstoppable forces of December.
Julio Jones’ hip injury kept him out of the loss to the Steelers but once again Harry Douglas showed he is one of the more talented replacements in the NFL. He rolled up three 100+ yard games last year subbing for Jones and again last Sunday when he ended with ten catches for 131 yards. Jones is no lock to return on Sunday since he was unable to practice last week. That would leave Douglas as the starter in New Orleans to face the same Saints that let Julio Jones gain 116 yards on seven receptions in the season opener.
The Titans lost Justin Hunter to injured reserve two weeks ago and the cracked bone in Kendall Wright’s hand has kept him out for two weeks. And it has not helped that Zach Mettenberger was lost for the year and Jake Locker injured his shoulder in the loss to the Jets. But at least Nate Washington stepped up with six catches for 102 yards and Delanie Walker ended with four receptions for 93 yards. Next week the Titans play in Jacksonville and then host the Colts. The ineffectiveness of the rushing effort ensures Washington and Walker will end their season with a heavier workload.
Mark Sanchez posted three straight 300 yard passing games when he became the starter but has cooled significantly since with only three touchdowns over the last three games and an average of 188 yards. The remaining schedule should promote the pass with road trips to Washington and Philadelphia and that will help. But Nick Foles is returning from his broken collar bone and could return to practice as early as this week. Losing the last two games could prompt the change.
The 49ers offense has been on a sharp decline in recent weeks and the problems only became worse when Frank Gore suffered a concussion in the loss to the Seahawks. Rookie Carlos Hyde ran very well in his place and gained 55 yards on only 6 carries but then he too was forced to leave the game with an ankle injury. The 49ers end their season with two home games versus the Chargers and then the Cardinals. Since they have been eliminated from the playoffs already, it would be nice to see more of Hyde if he can play. If both Gore and Hyde remain out, they’ll likely turn to undrafted free agent Alfonso Smith.
T.Y. Hilton tweaked his hamstring in the win over the Texans and he’ll be visiting doctors this week to make sure he can play in what should become a shootout in Dallas. Hilton’s best games have come on the road in tougher matchups and the Dallas secondary is mostly average. If Hilton cannot play or is limited, Donte Moncrief stands to profit most along with both Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. The Cowboys rank among the worst against tight ends and the Colts have thrown a score to the position in nearly every game this year. With so many matchups turning out disappointing point totals, loading up on Colt receivers this week and again in Tennessee for the season finale should pay off big.
ENDING ON A HIGHER NOTE
While Jonathan Stewart has long been a marginal fantasy player, recent weeks have him playing at a much higher level. That may not be enough to merit a start in a fantasy championship this week but he’s a cheap consideration in daily leagues like those at FantasyScore.com or Draftkings.com. He ran for 85 yards on 12 carries against the Vikings then turned in 155 yards and a score on the Saints in week 14. Last Sunday he managed 73 yards on 22 carries versus the Buccaneers. This weekend he goes against the same Browns team that gave up 241 yards and three touchdowns to the Bengals running backs.
There’s no arguing how poorly the season has gone for the Buccaneers but at least that high pick in the 2015 NFL draft doesn’t need to consider a wide receiver. Vincent Jackson saw only moderate use this year until four weeks ago but then posted 117 yards on the Bears. He’s since stumbled against the Bengals but then turned in a season best 159 yards on ten catches in Detroit. Last Sunday he again led the team with 70 yards on six receptions in Carolina. In that time, Mike Evans was held to around 45 yards in each game but scored four touchdowns overall. The Buccaneers finish out against two of the weaker secondaries when they host the Packers and then Saints.
This will go down as the year of the rookie wide receiver with the surprisingly good level of play from Sammy Watkins (59-850-5), Mike Evans (59-948-11), Brandin Cooks (53-550-3 in ten weeks) and Kelvin Benjamin (67-952-9). And of course the remaining first round wideout of Odell Beckham who could become the Offensive Rookie of the Year despite missing the first four games of the season and playing sparingly for two weeks until Victor Cruz landed on injured reserve. Beckham currently stands at 71 catches for 972 yards and nine scores. He comes off a season best 12 catches for 143 yards and three touchdowns and over the last four games he’s totaled 40 receptions for 509 yards and six touchdowns. He’s more than merely the next incantation of Josh Gordon of 2013. He’s single-handedly propelling fantasy owners into championships. His seven straight games of 90 or more yards is already an NFL record for a rookie.
REST SWEET PRINCE FOR YOU ALREADY KILLED ME
Peyton Manning doubled down on disappointing performances when he was limited to only 233 yards and one score by the Chargers. This came on the heels of his 173 yard game last week and the 179 yard and two score effort the prior week. At least Demaryius Thomas ended with six catches for 123 yards and a score in the win over the Chargers but no other receiver had more than marginal results. Thankfully the standings are such that there won’t be any teams intentionally tanking their game this weekend as they rest players for the playoffs. As it stands, the only team that looks like it may end up resting players in week 17 would be the Broncos. Assuming both teams reach the last week at 12-3, the Patriots not only have the head-to-head tie breaker but they will play in the early games. The Colts will play later on when they will know if that game has any meaning or not. The Pats host the Bills that week – chances are great that the Colts will have nothing to win in week 17.
|ARI 12, STL 6||Please, Exalted Supreme Being, do not let this be anything more than a horrible aberration. There were no touchdowns. The announcers faithfully tried to pitch this as being a great defensive matchup and wildly exciting in just a different sort of way than actually watching anyone on the offenses do their job. This was like watching a race just to see who came in last. It was just wrong. The 11-3 Cardinals return home to host the Seahawks in a very big game while the 6-8 Rams host the Giants.|
|PIT 27, ATL 20||Le’Veon Bell continues to shine with 119 total yards, five catches and two touchdowns. Antonio Brown (10-123) was the only other Steeler that matter and somehow Ben Roethlisberger passed for 360 yards and yet no touchdowns. Matt Ryan threw for 310 yards and two scores between Roddy White (7-58) and Devin Hester (5-85) while Harry Douglas (10-131) did a great job pretending to be Julio Jones. The 9-5 Steelers host the Chiefs this week and the 5-9 Falcons head to New Orleans.|
|JAC 12, BAL 20||No surprises here other than the Jaguars scored some points and yet still had no one with fantasy relevance. Joe Flacco only threw for 221 yards and one score to Owen Daniels (4-62) and Justin Forsett only ran for 48 yards on 16 runs. The Ravens knew they would win and played like the game was more an inconvenience. And of course they got away with it. Now the 9-5 Ravens travel to Houston and the 2-12 Jaguars host the Titans in another snorefest.|
|GB 13, BUF 21||Upset. And the Bills never even scored on offense. A punt return, a safety and four field goals took down the mighty Packers. There were no offensive stars for the Bills with no scores and only 158 pass yards. Aaron Rodgers was held to only 185 yards and two interceptions though and Eddie Lacy had 108 total yards and one score. Randall Cobb (7-96) still had a decent showing unlike Jordy Nelson (5-55). The loss sends the 10-4 Packers to Tampa Bay before ending against the Lions. The 8-6 Bills head to Oakland.|
|TB 17, CAR 19||Close game with marginal fantasy points. Doug Martin ran for 96 yards on 14 carries and Vincent Jackson led the receiver with just 70 yards on six catches. Mike Evans only caught two passed for 13 yards but one was the weekly touchdown. Derek Anderson subbed for Cam Newton but only threw for 277 yards and one score. Both Greg Olsen (10-110) and Kelvin Benjamin (8-104) came up big in the game while Jonathan Stewart ran for 73 yards on 22 carries. The 2-12 Buccaneers host the Packers and the 5-8-1 Panthers host the Browns.|
|CIN 30, CLE 0||The Johnny Manziel era kicked off with all the smells and success of a bad ham at the office Christmas Party. He threw for only 80 yards and two interceptions as the Browns produced a team wide flop hardly limited to just the quarterback. The Bengals won mostly because Jeremy Hill ran for 148 yards and two scores as Andy Dalton only passed for 117 yards. Johnny (assumedly) takes 7-7 Browns to Carolina while the 9-4-1 Bengals host the Broncos.|
|HOU 10, IND 17||First time they played it was 28-33 for the Colts. Now there were only two offensive touchdowns in the entire game. Andrew Luck only passed for 187 yard and two scores (he had only 370 yards and three scores in the first meeting) and no receiver had more than 50 yards. The Texans lost Ryan Fitzpatrick so Tom Savage finished out, Arian Foster was limited to only 117 total yards and DeAndre Hopkins caught five passes for 77 yards. The 7-7 Texans host the Ravens this week and the 10-4 Colts play in Dallas.|
|OAK 13, KC 31||This was the expected win but since when does Alex Smith pass for 297 yards and two scores against the Raiders while Jamaal Charles is held to only 12 carries for 52 yards? The only decent fantasy play ended up as Knile Davis (9-11) who stole a touchdown run and then scored a 70-yard touchdown on his only reception. Derek Carr managed just 222 yards and one score to James Jones (8-57). Latavius Murray ran for 59 yards on 12 carries and added 17 yards on two catches but not a lot happening for the Raiders here. Now the 2-12 Raiders host the Bills and the 8-6 Chiefs go to Pittsburgh.|
|WAS 13, NYG 24||All you need to know is that Odell Beckham is a beast. Just a beast. Eli Manning passed for 250 yards and three touchdowns and all Beckham ended with was 12 catches for 143 yards and all three touchdowns. No one else on the Giants managed more than 44 yards. The team is ten guys all trying to get Beckham the ball. The Skins lost Colt McCoy and Robert Griffin only threw for 236 yards and one score. Andre Roberts (2-81) was the only productive player. A gimpy DeSean Jackson (3-15) and a perfectly healthy Pierre Garcon (4-36) both did not really matter. The 3-11 Skins will host the Eagles this week and the 5-9 Giants head to St. Louis.|
|DEN 22, SD 10||Yet another game so full of potential points but then nothing. Peyton Manning only threw for 233 yards and one score and has completely lost every fantasy owner’s appreciation by now. Demaryius Thomas (6-123, TD) was the only receiver that mattered and C.J. Anderson ended with 96 total yards and no score. Philip Rivers only passed for 232 yards and one score with two interceptions. Antonio Gates (6-54) caught that touchdown and ended with more production than any other Charger. It was like an unproductive halftime for all but Demaryius Thomas that lasted for 60 minutes. The 11-3 Broncos head to Cincinnati and the 8-6 Chargers travel to San Francisco.|
|NYJ 16, TEN 11||When you can make the Jets on the road look good, you know you are pretty bad. The Titans are burning through quarterbacks and somehow are back to relying on Shonn Greene (16-50). Nate Washington (6-102) and Delanie Walker (4-93) both turned in good efforts. Geno Smith passed for 179 yards and one score with no interceptions so it was nearly a career best. Eric Decker (7-100) was the only receiver who mattered and Chris Johnson only ran for 55 yards on ten carries against his old team and Chris Ivory (12-25) even took the rushing score. Now the 3-11 Jets host the Patriots and the 2-12 Titans play in Jacksonville.|
|MIN 14, DET 16||It is like all the scoreboards froze at halftime. Matt Stafford only managed to throw for 153 yards and one score to Golden Tate (7-38) while Calvin Johnson led the team with 53 yards on four receptions. Joique Bell ended with 103 total yards but the Lions were devoid of other fantasy value despite playing at home. The Vikes saw Teddy Bridgewater pass for 315 yards and one score though no Viking had more than Charles Johnson 72 yards on five catches. Greg Jennings (3-43) caught the lone rushing score and Matt Asiata ran for 36 yards and one score plus seven catches for 50 yards. The 6-8 Vikings go to Miami and the 10-4 Lions travel to Chicago.|
|SF 7, SEA 17||Woohoo! 24 total points in a game. Colin Kaepernick passed for 141 yards and no 49er was better than Bruce Miller’s 56 yards. The only notable was that Frank Gore (11-29) finally scored a touchdown but also got a concussion. Carlos Hyde ran for 55 yards on just six carries and looked like Frank Gore five years ago. Marshawn Lynch (21-91) ran for one score but only caught one pass. Russell Wilson passed for just 168 yards and one score. Just a fantasy wasteland outside of Lynch. Now the7-7 49ers host the Chargers and the 10-4 Seahawks head to Arizona for a very big game.|
|MIA 13, NE 41||At least this is what was expected. Ryan Tannehill threw for 346 yards and one score to Mike Wallace (5-104) and Jarvis Landry ended with 99 yards on eight catches despite being covered mostly by Darrelle Revis but Lamar Miller was held to 47 yards on 13 runs. Tom Brady threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns split between Rob Gronkowski (3-96) and Julian Edelman (7-88) while LeGarrette Blount (8-17) scored once and gave way to Jonas Gray (11-62). The win sends the 11-3 Patriots to New York to face the Jets while the 7-7 Dolphins host the Vikings.|
HUDDLE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Odell Beckham – He is Josh Gordon from last year. He’s been on fire since week seven. He probably started out on the waiver wire in many leagues. He already had a couple of games with two scores and comes off a 12 catch, 143 yard effort with three touchdowns. He’s a lock to be one of the first receivers drafted next summer.
DRAMA 101 – SOMEBODY HAS TO LAUGH, SOMEBODY HAS TO CRY
|QB||Eli Manning||250||3||QB||Aaron Rodgers||212||0|
|RB||Knile Davis||81||2||RB||Jamaal Charles||53||0|
|RB||Doug Martin||99||0||RB||Justin Forsett||47||0|
|WR||Devin Hester||85||1||WR||Calvin Johnson||53||0|
|WR||Jerricho Cotchery||47||1||WR||Jordy Nelson||55||0|
|WR||Nate Washington||102||0||WR||A.J. Green||49||0|
|TE||Owen Daniels||62||1||TE||Julius Thomas||30||0|
|PK||Connor Barth||16 pts||PK||Phil Dawson||1 pt|
|Huddle Fantasy Points = 118||Huddle Fantasy Points = 35|
Sunday’s Couch Commentary
The Patriots, Colts and Broncos all clinched their divisions as expected and all still have something to play for if only seeding. The NFL remains a mess with two weeks left and only the Cardinals have clinched at least a wild card and they have perhaps the most injury ravaged offense of any team. Amazingly the Panthers have scratched their way up with two straight wins to now being in the lead of the NFC South unless the Saints win on Monday night.
At least for the fantasy world, there should be no teams intentionally resting players for the playoffs during week 16. We just need to have some higher scores out there lest the Odell Beckham and Le’Veon Bell owners have such a big advantage. The Game-O-The-Week? I wanted points and had to wait until the final game.
DALLAS 38, PHILADEPHIA 27
This was a great fantasy game since it generated some good points. The Cowboys squandered a 21-0 lead and trailed 21-24 before getting hot again and ending 38-27 when Mark Sanchez was unable to mount a comeback that did not feature an interception.
Sanchez would end with 252 yards and no scores with two interceptions. But LeSean McCoy ran for 64 yard on 16 carries and then had to watch Chris Polk run in two touchdowns and Darren Sproles take the third. McCoy smiled when they scored like that but it was more like the smile you use when someone breaks your record and you know you have to be congratulatory. Jeremy Maclin ended with 98 yards on six catches but Jordan Matthews was finally held without a catch.
Tony Romo passed for 265 yards and three touchdowns which all went to Dez Bryant (6-114). Jason Witten (7-69) also had a decent game but once again DeMarco Murray ended with 81 yards on 31 carries and just had one catch for three yards. He still added two touchdowns but his workload already has him at 351 carries with two weeks to go and 54 catches for a total of 407 touches.
This week is all about fantasy championships or winding down with some Daily Fantasy games over at FantasyScore. To those of you still playing – congrats and if you got there without Bell or Beckham you have truly earned your fantasy stripes.
Good luck to everyone!
Now get back to work…