Every Monday, The Shop buzzes with the fellas from our league that roll in with tales of elation or despair about what took place on Sunday. It’s typically the same old, same old. One guy is the smartest guy in the room for putting a specific player in his lineup and, more times than not, others are putting a little Irish in their coffee because they benched a guy who went off. Some of the boys get pissed even when they win – they wanted to win by more.
Typically, I just keep my mouth shut, my ears open and my till working. I was especially quiet this particular Monday because I danced through a mine field of facing both Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, actually cutting into his anticipated profit by getting more than expected from Steven Hauschka. I chalked it up to clean livin’.
But, for the rest of The Shop league, Sunday was either the most glorious days in the history of our league, which dates back to the days of Dan Marino being a high pick and Kurt Warner being a waiver-wire guy, or the worst week in recent memory.
Every week, there are a share of giant games that bury somebody. But, the scores in our league this week were epic. Whether it was due to injury or bye week, just about every player who had a big day Sunday was in somebody’s lineups. Scores that would typically win easily were summarily crushed. The three top weekly scores of the season all came this week because not only were points being scored but the biggest days came from players who were almost universally in lineups.
Quarterbacks – Ben Roethlisberger (408-3), Marcus Mariota (295-4), Aaron Rodgers (371-2 passing, 3-27-1 rushing), Drew Brees (303-3), Russell Wilson (348-3), Dak Prescott (391-2), Jameis Winston (312-2).
Running Backs – Ezekiel Elliott (21-114-2 rushing, 2-95-1 receiving), LaGarrette Blount (21-69-3), DeMarco Murray (17-123-1 rushing, 2-33-0 receiving and a TD pass), Le’Veon Bell (17-57-1 rushing, 9-77-1 receiving), Ryan Matthews (19-109-2/2-30-0), David Johnson (19-55-1 rushing, 5-46-1 receiving).
Receivers – Antonio Brown (14-154-1 and a point for 10 rushing yards), Jordy Nelson (12-126-1), Doug Baldwin (6-59-3), Tyrell Williams (5-125-1), Delanie Walker (9-124-1), Dez Bryant (6-116-1), Allen Robinson (9-107-1), Stefon Diggs (13-164-0), Davante Adams (6-156-0), Julio Jones (10-135-0), Larry Fitzgerald (12-133-0).
Even nine kickers scored in double figures. There were points to be had and the pickings were lush.
There are few things that make or break seasons that having that one big signature win or signature loss that you look back at later in the season. In The Shop league, just about everyone is going to point to Week 10 – either piling up points in their Week 10 win or getting the boots put to him in a Week 10 loss.
It may be a long time until we see this many fantasy starters post huge weeks simultaneously – much less on a bye week.
- Even though his team has stunk on offense all season, Minnesota’s Stefon Diggs put himself in the all-time NFL record books, catching 13 passes for the second straight week. PPR Diggs owners were dancing even though playing Vikings at this point is risky business.
- Just when you thought you couldn’t see a bigger back-and-forth than the Steelers-Cowboys game Sunday afternoon, which included seven lead changes, the Seahawks-Patriots game did the same – the first time in NFL history two games have had seven lead changes on the same day.
- I think the 2015 draft skeptics have quit labeling Marcus Mariota as a gimmick QB who would struggle to become a solid NFL quarterback.
- Have two teams combined to win nine straight games quieter than Kansas City and Miami. The Chiefs have won five straight and the Dolphins have won four in a row, despite being seen as an underdog in most if not all of them.
- The AFC West just keeps getting stronger. The defending champion Broncos are 7-3 and in third place in their division. Sucks to be San Diego right about now.
- If the NFC playoffs were to start today, Dallas would be the No. 1 seed, Detroit would be in and who wouldn’t be? Carolina, Green Bay, Arizona and Minnesota – four of the five teams that won double-digit games last season.
The Razor’s Edge
10. With the First Pick, the Cleveland Browns Select… – There are some bad teams in the NFL. Then there’s the Cleveland Browns. They’re so bad that we’re looking for the one game that they could win to avoid 0-16. Some thought Baltimore could be their huckleberry. Somehow the Browns even led at halftime. But, you don’t winning many games when you allow 396 yards and gain 144 of your own. That’s a weekly Oakland penalty yardage total, not for a NFL offense. 0-16 is coming.
9. So Why Are Ratings Down? – The NFL had a chance to showcase a Sunday game to millions from the two largest media markets in the country when the Los Angeles Rams headed east to play the New York Jets. What a scintillating QB battle we saw – a duel between placeholders Case Keenum and Bryce Petty. They delivered as expected – a garbage game that featured 312 passing yards (not for one QB, but both combined) and one touchdown being scored. Oh, yeah. The extra point got missed. The best part about this turd of a game? It didn’t go to overtime and the Rams slipped out of town with an ugly 9-6 win.
8. Jeffery Dumber Strikes Again – There are certain players that just make you scratch your head and ask, “What are you thinking?’ Alshon Jeffery is one of the those players. He spent most of the offseason hopping mad that the Bears didn’t sign him to a long-term deal, despite cashing in $14.6 million for the franchise tag. Put up a big season and the payday will follow. Instead, he has posted more games with 70 yards or less than with more than 70 yards, he has scored just one touchdown and isn’t even the leading receiver on his team. How can you make that worse? How about a four-game suspension for taking performance-enhancing drugs. He knocked millions off of his asking price on the open market and he has nobody to blame but himself. Excuses aside, for years the league has cautioned to have anything they put in their bodies checked. That may have been a seven-figure missed phone call.
7. After Further Review – It seems like every couple of years, once refs start botching calls and more focus is put on it, the more we find how many calls get routinely blown with no recourse the aggrieved party. From Julio Jones muggings to Cam Newton getting drilled (I have no problem with those non-calls) to Cole Beasley’s best facemask-inspired Linda Blair/Exorcist impression to Rob Gronkowski being tackled with a ball in flight, it hasn’t been this bad for refs since the infamous Hail Mary touchdown in Seattle where two refs standing five feet apart conferred – with one signaling touchdown and the other saying incomplete. Something needs to be done, but nobody is coming up with good answers to the problem.
6. Stay Classy, San Diego – Just days after voters said they didn’t feel good about helping pay for a billionaire’s new stadium proposal, the Chargers took the field looking to make the fans forget their troubles and enjoy some winning football. Oh, wait. These are the Chargers. In the fourth quarter alone, Philip Rivers threw four interceptions, including the game-winning points on a Pick 6. Given the records of the other teams in the division, the Chargers are packing up and packing in simultaneously.
5. We Hate to Say I Told You So, But… – When the 2015 draft rolled around, there were a lot of teams that either took Randy Gregory completely off their draft list or into Day 3 at the earliest. Jerry Jones was willing to take a chance – the same Jerry Jones who thought that talent outweighed red flags for Greg Hardy. Dallas felt a second-round pick was enough of a bargain to draft him. Unfortunately, his red flags followed him to Big D. When he did play, he didn’t make an impact. More importantly is when he wasn’t playing due to suspension. With word out that Gregory, who has been suspended all season, has failed another drug test and will likely miss another year or more, you have to ask yourself where are the priorities for young squires who are never going to make the kind of money they do in the NFL out there in the “real world.”
4. The Panther Man Can’t – Cam Newton got to dabbing once again and anticipating a blowout when Carolina with less than two minutes to go in the first half and go up 17-0, Cam forgot that his team was 3-5 and the Chiefs aren’t the type of team that gets steamrolled. When Cairo Santos kicked a field goal on a 12-play drive in the final 1:52, the Panthers offense wasn’t concerned. A 20-play drive that ate more than 10 minutes off the clock comes away with a punt? Of their four fourth-quarter drives, two more ended in punts. The other two ended in turnovers. The Chiefs scored 17 points in the fourth quarter – three field goals and a Pick Six and the Panthers are 3-6. Their margin for error to return to the playoffs as a defending Super Bowl loser is down to one more loss at most.
3. The Boat Is Taking on Water – The horrific slide of the Minnesota Vikings continues. On Sunday, Minnesota became just the third team since merger to start 5-0 and then lose their next four straight. The offense has been sub-par all year, but the defense has joined the party the last few weeks. The Vikings allowed the Redskins to score on all four of their meaningful drives in the second half and what was once seen as a legitimate Super Bowl contender is now being looked at as a team that might not finish .500. Losing another offensive tackle didn’t help that cause at all.
2. Twice In One Year? – There are ways to end games and there are ways to end at the Superdome. The Saints appear to score the game-winning touchdown with 1:22 to play. All they need is the extra point to cap the win. Will Lutz doesn’t miss it. It was blocked and returned for two points. Many Saints fans forgot that, despite giving up the lead-retaking two points that New Orleans still had to kick off as is the custom after touchdowns. Denver knelt on the ball and the game was over – snatching a loss from the jaws of victory. Given the Raiders went for two in Week 1 in a situation to tie, it would seem some of the Big Easy voodoo is coming back to bite the Saints.
1. Making A (Playoff) Murderer – There were concerns last season when the Green Bay Packers lost at home to each of their three division rivals. They lost their grip on the NFC North title and everyone seemed to believe that it would all change once 31-year old wide receiver Jordy Nelson came back. The Packers have lost three straight, including to Indianapolis and Tennessee and, in the next month, have to play at Washington, at Philadelphia and vs. Seattle. They’ve allowed 30 or more points in the last three games and four of the last five. They’ve allowed opposing QBs to combine for a passer rating of 101.4. Their current leading rusher is Aaron Rodgers. The streak is over of playoff appearances for the Packers. There’s nothing they can do to stop it – even if the they opt to R-E-L-A-X.