At The Shop, we call Black Monday the week after Week 15. In most leagues, there are only two left standing. It’s a week of matchups between the teams that have rolled all season and earned first-round playoff byes against the Cinderella stories who have rallied, made the playoffs and are looking to double up on their postseason success.
A lot of times, Black Monday is a day of mourning at The Shop, but never has been like this. With the exception of a couple of games, almost every game was as low scoring as I can remember – and this ain’t my first rodeo.
Of the 14 games played from Thursday night until Sunday afternoon, at least one team had one touchdown or less in 13 of them. Arizona and the Rams didn’t score a touchdown all night. Cleveland, Jacksonville and Tennessee scored no touchdowns. Washington, San Francisco, San Diego, Miami, Oakland and Houston scored one TD and lost. Detroit and Carolina scored one touchdown and won.
But what seemed to be the theme of the day was that the two highest scoring offenses in the league – Denver and Green Bay – the two teams with the most players in fantasy lineups, both scored just one touchdown.
Owners who had been carried by guys like Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Emmanuel Sanders, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and Julius Thomas were all laid flat. But they weren’t alone.
Megatron didn’t score. Jamaal Charles didn’t score. Jimmy Graham didn’t score. Andrew Luck had a pedestrian day. Guys that were viewed as roster studs for fantasy owners routinely got little to nothing. The scores in our league, with the exception of the guy with the Romo-Dez connection, were at record playoff lows.
It wasn’t just in The Shop league. The place was full all day with people pouring out their agony about how brilliant seasons were dashed by one week in which the guys who had been coming up big all season long fell flat when it counted the most.
My experience with low-scoring weeks in the fantasy playoffs usually results in crazy scoring going on the next week, which makes their misery run even deeper, especially if the all-stars who laid eggs in Week 15 return to form in Week 16 and put the boots to their opponents like they were expecting to see all along.
There’s nothing predictable about the NFL, much less during the fantasy playoffs when it’s all or nothing. But never can I remember a game in the modern pass-happy where 16 of the 32 teams scored one touchdown or less (including defense and special team scores) and 23 of 32 that scored two TDs or less. It was a week of underachievement that won’t soon be forgotten.
For those of you on the losing end of things in Week 15, whether you were a team that was scratching and clawing all season just to get to the playoffs or a scoring juggernaut that had it cruise control since October, you may find some comfort in knowing that you were not alone. A lot of great teams got knocked off last weekend and left lesser teams to fight out for the title.
But, that’s why we play fantasy football. The pain can be significant, but it makes the winning all the more satisfying when the shoe is on the other foot. It’s the breaks of the games and, with as few points as were scored in Week 15 games league-wide, just know that there are a lot of people in the same boat you’re in right now if you took a fall in Week 15.
- Buffalo sincerely wishes it was in the NFC North. Despite playing at Detroit and Chicago and hosting Green Bay and Minnesota, the Bills put up a 4-0 record against one of the best divisions in football – something nobody else in the AFC East was able to do.
- How crazy is the NFC South. Atlanta entered in first place on Sunday, lost it to Carolina, who then lost it to New Orleans in the span of less than 32 hours. Atlanta went from first to third in that same span.
- Let’s give props to Odell Beckham Jr., who just keeps raising the bar while the G-men wallow going nowhere. In the last seven games, he has caught 61 passes for 866 yards. A full season at that pace would have him catching 139 passes for 1,979 yards. Those are scary big numbers.
- Who needs offense? Arizona has allowed 17 or fewer points in nine games this year and more than 20 just twice.
- Jeremy Hill is supposed to be the Thunder component of the Thunder-n-Lightning backfield. Sure, Gio Bernard has been hurt, but Hill is averaging five yards a carry, has a good shot at hitting 1,000 yards and has scored eight rushing TDs. Not bad for a rookie who was expected to be a secondary piece of the Bengals offense.
THE RAZOR’S EDGE
10. What Did They Do To You? – Kickers always feel like they’ve been disrespected as non-athletes, yet, with games on the line, 50 big guys count on the little guys to win games. But, it seems like the NFL could care less about the little runts. First they moved the goal posts 10 yards back to make it harder on them. Then they backed up the kickoff line because they kicked too far. Then they experimented with backing up extra points because they’re too automatic. Now they want to narrow the goal posts. What’s up, Roger? Did a kicker piss you off at some point?
9. Who’s the Manning? – Who would have thought that, with fantasy seasons on the line, Eli Manning would be more valuable to a fantasy owner than Peyton? Over the last two weeks, Peyton has just one touchdown and it has been by design. We get it, Denver. You can run. But killing fantasy teams with Manning, Demaryius, Manny and Orange Julius doesn’t seem fair. We all know you can run, but that’s not what made fantasy owners fall in love with the Broncos. Get back to doing what you do best and leave the gamesmanship to those without so much air supremacy.
8. Johnny Be Bad – Johnny Manziel has earned his share of haters over the last year because he had a bunch of endorsements lined up that players drafted in front of him have seen – and all coming before he even took a snap as a starter. He got his first taste of being a starting NFL quarterback Sunday and the results were epically bad, including a passer rating of 27.3. Not a lot of finger-rubbing going on, unless of course you Bengals in that 30-donut blowout. It can’t get any worse, can it?
7. A Mighty Wind – The Bears are getting so ugly that it’s unfortunate they’re on so many nationally televised games. On Monday night, they once again got thrown into a deep hole that they had little to no chance of getting out of 251-128. Whenever you average being doubled up at halftime, you aren’t going to win many games, which helps explain why they’ve lost six of their eight to fall out of sight from the playoffs and are working their way up the first round of the draft.
6. Throwing Shade – Last year, Shady McCoy looked like the ideal running back for the Chip Kelly system and average 100 yards a game and scored 11 touchdowns. This year? Not so much. He has just four touchdowns and four 100-yard games. Complicating matters was when he hit bottom Sunday night for those who have been afraid to bench him despite not being the goal-line guy anymore. Last night McCoy carried 16 times for 64 yards and, as usual, didn’t score. His backups – Darren Sproles and Chris Polk – carried five times for 11 yards, but scored three rushing touchdowns. McCoy was the No. 1 pick in a lot of leagues, but the design of the Eagles offense has rendered him impotent to fantasy owners.
5. A Rolling Ball Gathers No Moss – As if things can’t get worse for the Deadskins this season, RG3 got his chance to do what RG3 does – mismanage the clock and turn the ball over. In Sunday’s loss to the Giants, with time for one play, barring a breakdown scramble, remaining before halftime, Washington had a chance to go up 17-7 on the Giants on the road. Instead, RG3 scrambles and, as he’s diving for the pylon, the ball comes loose and he fumbles out of bounds – turning what could have been seven points and would have likely been a minimum of three into none. Complicating matters, Santana Moss acts like punk and get tossed from the game after arguing with the refs. There’s nobody in charge of the asylum in Washington and things are going from bad to worse in a hurry.
4. Beer For My Men and Surgery for My Horses – For much of the 2014 season, there has been a growing concern that the Cowboys are pushing DeMarco Murray too hard. He has already touched the ball 405 times. He’s on a pace to carry the ball more than 400 times and catch more than 60 passes. But, Jerry Jones hasn’t been persuaded to take the saddle off his primary offensive horse. If anything, he’s ridden him harder. In the last two games, Murray has carried the ball 63 times. He had 31 carries against the Eagles despite averaging just 2.6 yards a carry (with 21 of those coming on one run). Now we learn that Murray underwent surgery on a broken bone in his hand, yet the Cowboys haven’t gone as far as to rule him out of next Sunday’s game. Really? So much for compassion or long-term playoff thinking. Jerry is power mad and won’t be satisfied until Murray ends up walking like Earl Campbell does.
3. Sun Setting on Arizona? – As things currently stand, the Cardinals have home field advantage with the Super Bowl eventually being played on their home field. In most instances, this would be seen as a slam dunk, but after losing Carson Palmer, Andre Ellington and now Drew Stanton, the Cards are without their top running threat and are down to their third and fourth quarterbacks. They were going to be hard-pressed to hold off teams like Seattle, Green Bay and Dallas when at full strength. But with the JV quarterbacks and running backs? Don’t book Super Bowl passage just yet.
2. Bombing In the Bay – After getting off to a 1-2 start, the 49ers rallied back to 7-4 and were putting themselves back in the mix for playoff contention. But, three straight double-digit losses – two to Seattle and one to ratty Oakland – has eliminated the Niners from the postseason and Jim Harbaugh’s coaching future may well be heading east to Michigan. The blame lies squarely with Colin Kaepernick and the offense. In their last eight games (five of them losses), the 49ers have scored more than 17 points just once, including just 23 in the last three (all losses). For a team dominated by defense, they were given credit for having a big-time offense. Instead, they’ve sunk like a rock and rendered themselves the fantasy equivalent of Jacksonville West.
1. Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood Ain’t In Buffalo – The Packers had a chance to keep the Lions at arm’s length with a win at Buffalo Sunday. Instead, the Packers were frustrated by long-time franchise whipping boy Kyle Orton and now not only are they no longer in the division lead and no longer control their own playoff destiny. At a time when they needed to strap it up, it may be too late for Rodgers to tell fans to relax. No matter what Detroit does next week, they will head to Green Bay in Week 17 with their own division fate in their own hands.